Toenails have an important role in our body, although you might assume they are solely for the esthetic matter. They protect our body from pathogens such as fungi or at least keep our toes from trauma since they are harder than the skin itself.
A brown discoloration is a possibility if we neglect the hygiene and care for our nails. It can be due to trauma or even some systemic condition, but you should not worry upfront, and first go check it with your doctor first.
Causes of Brown Toenail
Normally, nails are a skin color and more on the pink or white side of the color palette. Trauma is one of the common causes of the brown toenail. It can be due to an object falling on our leg and other things such as bumping into a furniture. This is common among waiters, construction workers, policemen.
Other causes for brown toenails can be infections. Usually, fungal infection is the most common one. Fungal nail infection is called onychomycosis. A nail becomes rigid, it starts to split and becomes brown. This can be followed by specific smell and it can be painful while wearing a shoe.
Among athletes, injuries are also common where they can injure a toe while they’re running or they hit their upper nail surface. The nail is painful and soon becomes black due to the subungual hematoma.
This can be found in people who wear tight shoes and produce constant pressure over nails. Other causes can be cancer and melanoma or even gangrene, especially among those having diabetes as chronic disease complication.
Symptoms of Onychomycosis
Onychomycosis can be followed by several symptoms such as:
- Physical symptoms such as the change of the toenail color, appearance
- Progression of the disease can affect walking, standing or doing any activity
- Loss of dexterity
- Discomfort followed by paresthesia
- Loss of self-esteem and lesser social interaction.
Treatment for Brown Toenails
As with some other conditions, it is important to inspect the condition and determine the real cause of brown toenail. When having brown toenails, it is also advised to pay attention to other symptoms that might be present in order to reveal the responsible cause.
If the problem is in wearing tight shoes, it is advised to stay away from that kind of shoes. Try wearing wider and bigger shoes with explicitly cotton socks rather than synthetic ones since cotton ones will absorb the moisture and keep your feet dry which will help with fungi infection prevention.
If you’re having a fungi infection, there are some home remedies which you can try to treat the fungi. Some recommend using apple cider vinegar since it can help with killing fungi. Put your toenails into a bowl filled up with apple cider vinegar and hold it for about 15 minutes. After that, rinse it with water and thoroughly tap the legs to keep them dry. Others have tried using tea tree oil which is found to be helpful with killing the fungi. You can apply the oil right before going to be and it will do its fungicidal actions during the night. People have reported that applying toothpaste can help as well, so you might try that remedy as well.
Medications for Onychomycosis
These include topical and oral drugs.
Topical therapy is applied directly to the affected area:
- Ciclopirox olamine 8% solution used as a nail lacquer
- Bifonazole/Urea or Amorolfine
- Efinaconazole 10% topical solution
- Tavaborole 0.5% topical solution or oxaborole solution
- Fluconazole and posaconazole
Other possibilities for treatment:
- Laser treatment
- Chemical, mechanical or surgical nail avulsion
- 40-50% urea chemical removal
- Removal of the nail plate including other therapy such as oral medications.