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Why are my toenails unsightly?

When the warmer weather arrives, out come the open-toed shoes and sandals. With more notice to our toenails, there is an influx at FALL of patients wondering why their toenails are "ugly" or "unsightly". However, any time of the year is a good time to determine what is going on and what can be done to fix things. Deformed or discoloured toenails are common, with many different possible causes discussed below. Our clinicians at FALL offer a variety of non-surgical and surgical solutions to your nail problems.

Do I have an ingrown or curved nail?

Ingrown toenails come in all shapes and sizes. An ingrown nail occurs when the side of the nail curls and grows into the toe's skin. As a result of the constant irritation of the nail, the toe becomes red, swollen, painful and inflamed. In some cases, there may be a secondary infection. Ingrown nails are caused by genetics (e.g. curved nail shape), trauma, incorrect nail cutting technique or ill-fitting footwear.

Our podiatrists at FALL offer various non-surgical and surgical solutions for your ingrown or curved nails. Depending on your presentation, this ranges from permanent minor surgical procedures (LINK TO NAIL SURGERY BLOG?) to our new non-invasive ONYFIX technology (Link to ONYFIX BLOG?)

Is it possibly a fungal nail infection?

Fungal nails or onychomycosis is an infection mainly caused by a fungal species known as dermatophytes. It typically invades the nail if it becomes broken or damaged but can penetrate under it if there is a surrounding fungal skin infection.

Signs or symptoms of fungal nails include lifting of the nail from the nail bed, thickening, crumbling or brittle toenails. There may also be orange, white or brown discolouration of the nail. Risk factors include age (over 60 years old), immunocompromise (e.g. diabetes), having sweaty or moist feet and nail injuries or trauma.

At FALL, we offer the latest in evidence-based treatment options for fungal nails, including FOX Laser therapy, Anti-fungal medicines, general podiatry treatment and preventative advice.

What if your nail problem comes from an underlying bone problem?

When you notice that your nail is lifted or thickened, with possible colour changes, you might think: "is it fungus?" or "I don't recall hitting it". Sometimes, your nail changes because of an underlying bony exostosis, meaning the bone under the nail pushes up against the nail.

Your podiatrist will request x-rays and perform a thorough assessment to diagnose this. There are numerous available non-operative and operative solutions to this condition. Diagnosis determines management!

Find out more

If you want to learn more about what our clinicians at FALL can do for your toenails, please get in touch! Call on 08 9316 3010 or email at

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