Toenail Falling Off – Loss, Separation, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Are you suffering from the loss of toenails? Get insights on the causes of toenail falling off, symptoms and treatment. You will also get enlightened more about toenail loss prevention measures.

toenail falling off causes

toenail falling off picture

Toenail Falling Off Causes

The loss of toenails is also known as onychoptosis. It is not a very common condition but it is very distressing when it occurs. There are two major causes that can be greatly be blamed for this condition. They include fungus and trauma from an injury.

After an infection or an injury, the affected nail will initially appear to be discolored. This is a big indication that shows the separation of the nail from the bed. The nail will then loosen, it may be accompanied with mild to severe pain especially if it is caused by an injury.

This condition requires a health care provider for diagnosis and treatment especially if the loss of toenail occurs without apparent reason or as a result of an infection. When you fail to seek treatment on time, this condition may spread to other toenails and cause a loss. The various causes of this condition includes:

  1. Fungal infection

Toenail fungus is a condition that changes the appearance of the nail. This infection is caused by different types of fungi. When you are infected, you will start by noticing the various changes in the appearance of the nail. It may become discolored or yellow toenails, thickened, damaged or broken and eventually causing toenail falling off.

When the fungal infection is not treated, it is likely to get worse. It may spread to other nails and the areas around causing damage. Therefore, you are supposed to seek medical assistance from your health provider right away after experiencing the first symptoms.

Nail fungal infection can be treated successfully when diagnosed earlier but there are other types that causes a challenge to treat. Some types of fungus nail infections are easier to treat than others. For instance, the white superficial onychomycosis is easier to treat than distal subungual onychomycosis.

Your nails may remain to be disfigured for some time even after treatment. Therefore, you are supposed to be patience with the appearance of your nails for several month before they can restore their normal appearance and color.

The fungi thrives well in moist, dark and warm environment. Such areas includes public washrooms, swimming pools and hot tubs. After infection, the fungi will grow and multiply by feeding on the keratin protein which makes the hard surface of your nails. There are various factors that increases your chances of getting this infection, they include:

  • Walking barefooted in public washrooms, swimming pool and hot tubs
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes that are less aerated leads to infection that causes toenail falling off
  • Poor foot hygiene such as wearing dirty socks and shoes
  • Frequent wearing of nail polish that prevents the nail from getting free oxygen
  • Being an athlete or a military personnel
  • Suffering from circulatory conditions or chronic conditions like HIV and Aids or Cancer may also increase the chances various nail problems including ridges in fingernails.

The fungal infection can be accompanied with other complications such as bacterial nail bed infection. It may cause inflammations, swelling and itchiness on the tissues that surround the affected toenail.

  1. Injury

You may be walking and bump your foot in an obstacle like a stone that causes trauma to your nail. There are also other sporting activities such as athletics, football or volley ball that may result to an injury to your toenail when running or hit against the shoes.

When you hit your toenail hard or repeatedly, it can cause a painful bleeding under the nail bed that can cause toenail falling off. It is advisable to visit your podiatrist to examine your condition. He or she may help to drain the blood from the nail bed and provide the necessary treatment.

Mild injuries on the nail may only cause white spots on nail after several month from the accident. In most cases, you may have forgotten about the injury. A nail is lost from an injury is mostly replaced by a new one after several month but you need to be very careful with your toenails to prevent the pain and other complications that may come together with a nail loss.

A part from fungal infection and injury, there are also other possible causes of nail loss although they are less common. They include the following:

  • This is a skin condition that causes red and crusty patches on different parts of skin such as knees, elbow, scalp, lower back and other parts. The patches may also become itchy and sore.
  • They are small lumps that develops on the skin of feet and hands. They may appear in clusters or singly.
  • An allergic reaction to medicines such as antibiotics or nail polish may also cause the loss of toenails.
  • Overactive thyroid. Overactive thyroid in the neck may produce excessive hormones that has negative effects on the nails.
  • A condition that causes protein to build up in various body organs.

Toenail Falling Off Symptoms

The symptoms of toenail loss may range from bleeding, discoloration and discomforts caused by an infection or the underlying body condition. The nail may also fall off without any apparent reason but obviously there is underlying cause. You may experience the various symptoms depending with the cause as described below:

Due to infection:

toenail falling off causes and treatment

toenail falling off symptoms

  • Discoloration of the nail from normal to yellow, brown or green
  • Thickened toenail
  • Brittle, crumby or ragged toenails
  • Distorted nail shape
  • Dark color due to accumulation of debris under the nail bed
  • Toenail falling off
  • Redness of the tissues surrounding the affected toenail
  • Swelling and tenderness of the affected toe
  • Foul smell
  • Yellow or green discharge from under the nail bed
  • Pain especially when wearing a shoe.

Due to an injury:

  • Bleeding from the nail bed
  • Mild or severe pain depending with the intensity of the injury
  • Accumulation of blood under the nail bed
  • Discoloration of the nail from normal to dark or brown
  • Loose toenail

Toenail Falling Off Treatment

The loss of toenail treatment depends with its cause. When this condition is caused by a fungal infection, it is advisable to visit your podiatrist once you notice the first symptoms. In some cases, the fungal infection may be accompanied with a bacterial infection to cause increased pain, swelling, tenderness redness and discharge from the affected toenail.

When you fail to visit your doctor, the fungal infection may spread to the nail itself, the skin around and to the other toes. The toenail can become thickened, discolored and painful. When you make an appointment with the doctor, he or she will diagnose your condition and prescribe the following medicines:

  1. Oral antifungal pills

The antifungal oral pills are prescribed medicines that helps in treating moderate, severe or hard fungal nail infection. Such medicines are used to treat fungal infection that may become resistance to topical antifungal medications. You are supposed to take such medicines as directed by your doctor.

Even if you notice some improvement, do stop the medication until you complete the dose. They are effective toenail fungus treatment prescription when taken as directed by your podiatrist.

  1. Topical antifungal medicines

This are antifungal gel, creams, lotion and nail polish that helps in treating mild to moderate fungal infections. They are also used to prevent recurrent such infections. They prevent some types of fungal infection from spreading to the other toenails such as athlete’s foot and hence helps to get rid of further toenail falling off. They can also be used along with oral antifungal medicines.

  1. Removal of an infected nail

In some cases, the removal of the whole infected nail may be the only solution to your condition. This is done especially when there is severe or recurring fungal toenail infection. The nail is removed together with its root to prevent regrowth. Although the whole nail is rarely removed but it can be done using either surgery or without.

You may also consider to use some of the home remedies for toenail fungus. This includes using natural treatment that contain antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. They are also effective in treating mild fungal infections. They help in treating and prevent recurring of toenail fungal infection.

When the nail separation is caused by injury, it may start to bleed. The first thing to do is to perform first aid by applying some pressure on the affected toe and seek medical treatment. Your doctor will help to drain blood from the affected toenail and bandage it.

When whole nail is detached, your podiatrist may remove the nail to allow regrowth of a new nail. You may be given some pain relievers to ease the pain and other discomforts caused by the injury. However, when your toenail is partially torn, you may perform the treatment by yourself at home using the procedure below:

  • Trim the affected nail short and file the sharp edges smooth. It is important as it prevent the nail from further tearing.
  • Using scissors, remove the detached nail if the nail is partially attached.
  • Apply a cool compress on the affected toe or soak it in cold water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment on the affected area and around the toe.
  • Cover the nail using a bandage, this helps to prevent infection on the affected area and allows the nail to grow out.
  • Take good aftercare to prevent the risk of toenail falling off.

Toenail Loss Prevention

To prevent foot problems and nail loss, here are some tips to maintain a healthy toenails:

  • Be cautious when performing the various sporting activities such as athletics, football and volley ball.
  • Avoid ill-fitting shoes. Wear a shoe that has enough room for your toe. It should be made of breathable material that allow free air circulation. It should also offer stability and balance.
  • Practice good hygiene for your feet. You should dry them well using a clean towel after shower or cleaning. You should also wear clean socks and shoes.
  • Consider wearing socks made of breathable material like cotton. Other material may not allow enough air to your feet.
  • Keep your nails short, trim the toenails straight across and use a nail file to smoothen the rough edges. This is important on how to strengthen nails.
  • Visit your podiatrist immediately you start experiencing the first signs of toenail falling off, such as discoloration, splitting, and loosening.
  • Avoid tearing the nail that is partially torn, instead, bandage it and visit your medical provider.
  • Avoid walking barefooted in damp and moist areas such as public washrooms, swimming pools and hot tubs.
  • Clean and disinfect the pedicure or manicure tools before using them on your nails.
  • Avoid sharing of socks and shoes.

More sources and references:

http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/why-my-toenail-falling

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/basics/symptoms/con-20019319

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nail-abnormalities/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/fungal-nail-infections-what-happens

http://www.footvitals.com/toenails/toenail-falling-off.html

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