Skip to main content

When to See a Foot Doctor for Nail Problems

When to See a Foot Doctor for Nail Problems

People know to visit the foot doctor when experiencing foot problems such as bunions, Achilles tendinitis or heel pain, but they hardly pay attention to their toenails. Caring for toenails may not seem like a big deal, but a small problem to these seemingly insignificant parts may result in bigger problems that may cause infections, pain and serious health issues. This article talks about common toenail problems and when to see a foot doctor.

Nail problems that warrant a visit to the foot doctor

People experiencing the following common nail problems may need to see a foot doctor as soon as possible:

Black and bruised nail

A toenail is bruised if it turns darker or black. The discoloration is a result of the blood under the nail. It is often caused by an injury, such as hitting it against something hard or dropping heavy objects onto the toe. It could also be the outcome of repeatedly cramping the toes with shoes. The condition should go away on its own but it may be advisable to have it checked by a foot doctor. To prevent infection, an antifungal or topical antibiotic can be applied as preventative care.


If the nail changes color and it is not black, it could be a case of fungal infection. Also known as onychomycosis, nail fungus happens when an infection forms below the surface of the nail. Since the fungi survive on the nail’s keratin, the nail may become yellowish and brittle, crumbly and thick and develop a foul odor.

Fungus infection may occur through tiny cuts under the nail. Patients usually pick it up by walking barefoot in unsanitary areas — anywhere bacteria thrive. A visit to the foot doctor is important to prevent the condition from spreading or becoming worse.

Ingrown toenail

This condition mostly affects the big toe and occurs when the nail grows into the skin. This may happen due to different factors such as injury, cutting nails too low or incorrectly, or wearing tight shoes. People who have naturally curved toenails are also prone to developing nail problems. When the corners of the toenail grow into the skin, the person may experience pain, swelling and inflammation. Without proper treatment, an infection may set in and the skin may form over the nail, making treatment even more difficult.

Diabetes foot care

For diabetic patients, identifying nail problems is crucial to their overall health. Any nail discoloration can indicate infection, and when someone has diabetes, it could spell trouble. Diabetes affects the body’s healing ability and a simple problem, even one as small as a cut due to an ingrown toenail, can easily turn into severe complications and may eventually cause amputation. Therefore, patients must watch out for signs of nail problems and reach out to their healthcare provider immediately.

Looking for a foot doctor?

A foot doctor can provide adequate care for different foot problems, including issues affecting the nails. If your nail appears different and is causing pain, do not overlook it. Contact a foot doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment options.

Get more information here: or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (208) 803-0010

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Ask a Foot Doctor About Plantar Fasciitis

A podiatrist, also known as a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a foot doctor. This kind of surgeon or physician can treat the ankle, foot and connecting parts of the leg. A podiatrist can help you if you have a foot condition like plantar fasciitis.

Could a Podiatrist Recommend Orthotics For You?

Learning more about orthotics when living with a certain type of foot disorder is a great idea. When you are experiencing problems with your feet, it can really make it difficult for you to perform your everyday tasks.

Should I See a Podiatrist or Orthopedist?

Like many people, you may be considering either podiatry or orthopedics to care for your ailing feet. Both disciplines have their place and can offer help for a variety of conditions.

What Services Does a Foot Doctor Offer?

A foot doctor, or podiatrist, can help you with problems that affect your lower legs or feet. Podiatrists are qualified to care for your feet because of their education and training.