Many of us take our foot health, especially the structure of our toenails, for granted. But if any of your toenails feel loose or fall off, you could find the incident extremely surprising, and it may leave you feeling self-conscious about the appearance of your feet.
If you do lose a toenail, it will grow back. But nails on the toes grow at a much slower rate than your fingernails. It may take 12 to 18 months to see full restoration of toenail health after this event. So preserving your toenails through preventative care can help you avoid this process and recovery.
You can better keep your toenails whole and healthy when you understand the potential reasons a nail may fall off of the toe. Read on to discover three causes of toenail loss and how to prevent this occurrence.
One of the primary reasons you might lose a toenail is due to an injury to the toe. A sharp pain due to a sudden impact to the toe, such as dropping an item on the foot, may fade fairly quickly. But you could suffer bruising under the nail that can swell and lead the nail to fall off of the toe.
The nail likely will not dislodge until a few weeks after the injury, but you may notice some signs that this will occur before this point. You might see dark discoloration under the nail where bruising develops. Then the nail will start to feel loose.
An acute injury is not the only way you might develop toe damage that could lead to toenail loss. Long-distance runners might suffer from this nail damage because the impact of constant running can lead to the same bruising beneath the toenail.
To avoid this damage, wear running shoes that fit properly. You should also visit a podiatrist as soon as you can if you notice indicators that the nail may fall off.
Toenail fungus is another common cause of the loss of a nail on the toe. This fungal infection grows in damp locations and can thrive on sweaty feet. It often appears as a white or yellow thickening in the toenail.
Untreated nail fungus will eat away at the toenail’s structure until it falls off of the toe completely. So you should not delay seeking treatment for nail fungus from your podiatrist. The issue will not go away on its own. You can also prevent nail fungus by keeping your feet as clean and as dry as possible.
Underlying Health Conditions
Health conditions beyond typical foot problems can also cause a toenail to fall off. For instance, skin concerns like psoriasis involve the deterioration of the skin and nail cells. During a flare-up, enough damage might occur that the nail can dislodge.
Other illnesses and certain medications, including chemotherapy, can lead to toenail loss as well. Discuss your underlying medical conditions with your podiatrist to preserve your toenails and foot health.