Toenail Discoloration Causes, Types and Treatments
Our Foot Specialists of Waukesha Provide Toe Discoloration Diagnosis
Our foot specialists in Waukesha and Milwaukee area have seen a lot of patients with toenail discoloration, some with serious conditions, some not.
Causes of Toenail Discoloration
Below, we have listed the most common, and uncommon, causes of toenail discoloration.
- Toenail Discoloration from Diabetes
- Toenail Discoloration from Running
- Toenail Discoloration after Removing Polish
- Toenail Discoloration after a Pedicure
- Toenail Discoloration after Injury
- Toenail Discoloration During Pregnancy
- Toenail Discoloration from Fungus
- Toenail Discoloration from Ingrown Toenail
- Toenail Discoloration from HIV/AIDS
- Toenail Discoloration from Melanoma or Other Cancers
- Toenail Discoloration after Chemo
Toenail discoloration typically occurs with toenail infections or skin conditions. However, toenail discoloration can also be evidence of more serious health issues including diabetes or other diseases of the liver, heart, kidneys or lungs.
Types of Toenail Discoloration
Below, our foot doctors in Waukesha have provided the most common types of toenail discoloration and their causes.
Most toenail fungus begins with a yellow spot under the nail. If left untreated, toenail fungus can spread deeper and to other toes. Nail infections aren’t usually a serious health issue. However for diabetics, an unchecked fungal infection could lead to serious health complications. Yellow toenails can also occur in patients with serious pulmonary disease, lymphedema (swelling of the hands and feet), lung disease, chronic bronchitis, diabetes and liver disorders. Yellow toenails may also appear when there has been a separation from the nail (onycholysis).
Most green toenails are caused by common toenail fungus, usually Trichophyton rubrum.
Black toenails can be caused by a hematoma (collection of blood) under the nail bed after an injury to the site. They are also commonly caused by ingrown toenails. Black toenails can be a sign of gangrene or cancer, although this is extremely rare.
Red toenails may be the result of a hematoma under the nail. This is usually due to a toenail injury or trauma. Red toenails can also be caused by ingrown toenails. Red toenails may be associated with a heart condition.
Brown toenails typically result from wearing too tight of shoes. They can also occur in older patients. Brown toenails may be present on one toe or multiple toes. Brown toenails are more susceptible to toenail fungus and therefore should be monitored closely.
Blue toenails can be caused by actual “cold feet”, which may be the result of poor blood circulation. Poor circulation in feet may be due to certain lung conditions like COPD or heavy smoking, which can reduce oxygen in your blood. Another reason for blue toenails may be due to narrowing arteries and restricted blood flow caused by Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or other heart diseases.
White nails aren’t necessarily a health issue. A white spot at the base of the nail is usually not serious. However, a white mark at the tip could be of concern. This may indicate a developing toenail fungus or it may be a sign of an injury which is causing the nail to separate from the nail bed. White nails present since birth are usually genetic (inherited). However, when they happen in older adults, they may be a sign of much more serious illnesses such as hepatic cirrhosis, chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, chronic hypoalbuminemia, diabetes mellitus, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. White nails with a rim of darker color at the tip of the nail may be a sign of cirrhosis of the liver.
Toenail Discoloration Treatment in Waukesha and Milwaukee Area
Many over-the-counter medications and sprays aren’t effective treatments for toenail fungus. They may improve the appearance, but they don’t remove the actual infection. Doctor-prescribed medication is more effective for toenail discoloration caused by fungus. However, you may have to take the prescribed medication for up to a year.
Our foot doctors in Waukesha and Milwaukee area prefer to use toenail fungus laser treatment, which has proven to be 88-90% effective on toenail fungus with each treatment taking just 10 minutes. Most patients need only 2-4 treatments.
Patients who have toenail discoloration from arthritis or poor circulation typically see the best treatment results with MLS Laser Therapy, which takes 10-20 minutes per session. Most patients need only 1-3 sessions.
Other forms of toe discoloration will persist until diagnosed and treated by an experienced podiatrist or medical doctor, depending on the underlying cause.
Our Podiatrists Effectively Treat the Underlying Cause of Toenail Discoloration
If you need a toenail discoloration diagnosis, make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists in Waukesha or Milwaukee area. We’ll accurately diagnose the underlying cause, prescribe the most effective treatment for your specific condition and we’ll give you ways to prevent future toenail discoloration. If there is a more serious health condition associated with the toenail discoloration we can refer you to the best specialist near you.