When toenail becomes troublesome, why it shouldn't be taken lightly

Take much care to keep the toes clean and choose shoes and other footwear that are the correct fit for the feet.

A man approached me with a problem with his toenail. He was using shoes for the first time in his life and felt an acute pain on the big toe and its nail. There was difficulty in walking with shoes, he said.

“After a few days, the pain went away. But later while trimming the growing nail on my big toe, I found that the newly formed nail below it was dark in colour. I also could not fully remove my old nail,” said the man. His nail is now disfigured and sought a solution to the woe.

In the olden days, very few people wore footwear. However, now the reverse is true. But unless proper shoes are chosen, toes would be cramped inside the footwear. As a result, toenails would feel the pressure and their tips may grow backwards. This may lead to a condition known as whitlow, which is characterized by an abscess in the soft tissue of the area.

Moreover, if dust and dirt from the soil get lodged between the toenails, it also causes pus formation. People handling cow dung or organic fertilizers as part of their work are prone to this condition. Some people may suffer from allergies too.

In all such persons, the nail may get loosely detached from the tip of the toe and grow upwards. Formation of pus can also be noticed.


For treating this condition, antibiotic ointments are not effective as they cannot be applied under the toenails. Moreover, even if pus may disappear in the exterior area, it may remain in the interior. This makes taking tablets necessary for at least three months, which is the time needed for a new nail to grow.

In some cases of whitlow, the entire nail may have to be removed surgically.


While trimming a nail, take care to avoid injury to the soft tissue between it and the toe. An injury here could lead to pus formation. Take much care to choose shoes and other footwear that are the correct fit for your feet. The feet should be comfortable inside the shoes to avoid pressure on the toenails.

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