Periodically we see patients who have varying histories, yet a commonality of one or more of their toenails no longer growing, often for a duration of 4 or more months. While the causes of an absence of nail growth can vary widely, many of these cases are the result of some sort of repetitive trauma to the nail. Whether a day or two of hiking, playing soccer, wearing tight fitting, closed toe dress shoes at a wedding, or simply from walking in a pair of shoes too tight, constant pressure on the toenail can result in fluid accumulation below the nail. When this occurs, the nail is separated from the root of the nail, resulting in a new toenail growing below the existing toenail. Often times, the fluid, or blister under the toenail will drain, but this nail stops growing. It takes 4-6 months for the new toenail to grow out to the end of the toenail. Many times, the old toenail will need to be removed to prevent the area below the nail from staying constantly moist, which could predispose to infection.
Other times, when the nails don't seem to grow, it could be from nutrition, other systemic diseases, injury to the root of the nail, or other factors. In these cases, little can be done to improve the rate of growth of the toenails. Keeping the nails moisturized with either vitamin E oil, tea tree oil, a urea based cream or nail gel, or other moisturizers may be of benefit.
As a general rule, it is always advised to keep the nail cut shorter than the end of the toe. This ensures the toe itself is what is hitting the shoe, and not the nail. For more information or if you would like to discuss potential treatment options for your nail problems, give us a call!