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Common Toenail Conditions - Changes in Nail Colour

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Common Toenail Conditions - Changes in Nail Colour

 

When nails change colour, they most commonly turn yellow, but they can also appear brown, gray, blue, or red. Colour changes can affect the whole nail or only part of it. In some cases the colour changes are not in the nail at all but in the skin under the nail.

 

Sometimes a change in the colour of the toenails can be caused by an injury. A discoloration of this sort usually grows out with the nail and is gradually trimmed away with routine nail care. When nails change colour, They most commonly turn yellow, but they can also appear brown, gray, blue, or red.

 

Colour changes can affect the whole nail or only part of it. In some cases the colour changes are not in the nail at all but in the skin under the nail.

 

Sometimes a change in the colour of the toenails can be caused by an injury. A discoloration of this sort usually grows out with the nail and is gradually trimmed away with routine nail care. 

 

The discoloration can, however, take up to a year to resolve. This process can occur very slowly over the course of several years. Yellowing of the nails sometimes improves or even resolves with topical or oral antfugal treatment.

 

Coloured lines can also occur in the nails. A white line across the nail from sid-to-side is commonly called a Mee's line.

 

This line often affects more than one nail, but it can occur in just one. The line advances with the growing nail and may be a symptom of congestive heart failure, the effects of chemotherapy, or systemic insult.

 

 

 

Bands of white lines that disappear when the nail is compressed are called Muehrcke's lines. Unlike Mee's lines, Muehrcke's lines do not advance as the nail grows.Coloured lines can also occur in the nails. A white line across the nail from sid-to-side is commonly called a Mee's line.

 

This line often affects more than one nail, but it can occur in just one. The line advances with the growing nail and may be a symptom of congestive heart failure, the effects of chemotherapy , or systemic insult. Bands of white lines that disappear when the nail is compressed are called Muehrcke's lines.

 

Unlike Mee's lines, Muehrcke's lines do not advance as the nail grows.Muehrcke's lines can be caused by liver disease or malnutrition.Muehrcke's lines can be caused by liver disease or malnutrition.

 

White lines in the nail that are oriented lengthwise (instead of across the nasil from one side to the other) are usually of no significance and a likely just a result of minor trauma  to the nail or of the normal aging process. Occasionally they are accompanied by lengthwise ridges in the nail as well.

 

 

Red or brown lines that are oriented along the length of the nail (not side-to-side) are often splinter hemorrhages. They result from rupture of small blood vessels. They may be caused by trauma, psoriasis, or endocarditis. 

 

Red or brown lines that are oriented along the length of the nail (not side-to-side) are often splinter hemorrhages. They result from rupture of small blood vessels. They may be caused by trauma, psoriasis, or endocarditis. 

 

If they are accompanied by fever and similar changes to the skin around the nail, they should be evaluated by a doctor.People with darker skin often have dark nail discoloration or lines .While this is most often  an incidental finding, it can make it more difficult to distinguish benign conditions from more serious conditions.

 

There are several causes for changes in nail colour that need to be addressed by a general practitioner or podiatrist, These causes include bacterial infections, circulation changes (usually decreased circulation), poor nutrition, and drug reactions.

 

Certain diseases, including skin cancer, psoriasis, kidney disese, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, can also cause nail discoloration. If you suspect any of these causes, seek the advice of a doctor.

 

Reference: Great Feet For Life: Paul Langer, DPM 

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