The toenail


The nails (also: nail plate) are the translucent to whitish plates made of the protein keratin, which are found on the fingertips as fingernails in humans and on the tips of the toes as toenails.

A Toenail consists of about 100 to 150 layers of horn cells lying on top of each other, i.e. cells that are actually the ones already dead cells the epidermis (epidermis) represent. The thickness of a nail varies greatly from person to person, ranging from around 0.05 mm in babies to 0.75 mm in some adults. In healthy people, a toenail grows an average of 0.5 to 1.2 mm per week, but this rate can decrease with age, after injuries and in some diseases.

Nail building

The structure of a nail is very complex. The area where normal skin meets the toenail is known as Nail pocket. At the bottom of this nail pocket is the so-called Nail rootfrom which the horn plates, which ultimately represent the actual toenail, are formed.
The substance of the nail plate is made up of the so-called matrix, which is often recognizable as a light crescent moon at the nail origin and also under the name nail moon or Lunula is known.
The connective tissue lies under the nail plate Nail bedthat is firmly attached to the periosteum of the underlying bone is overgrown.
On the sides, the nails are surrounded by a fold of skin known as the Nail wall or also called nail fold. This covers the invisible parts of the toenail and ensures that the toenail is supported and protected from lateral tears, which can be very painful. The visible part of the skin that directly adjoins the nail wall and rests on top of the nail plate is called the cuticle.

The toenail itself is ultimately only made of dead material, which is why it is neither blood vessels nor nerve cells contains. That's why we have in the toenail itself too no sense or pain. The section of the skin on the fingertip or the tip of the toe, however, which is at the very front and pulls under the nail, as it were, is very densely covered with sensory cells. In this way, the nails can fulfill their important function for the tactile feeling. The task of the nails is to protect the fingertips or toe tips and (especially in the case of the fingers) to help them grip, for which a pronounced sense of touch is necessary.

Nail care

The basis for beautiful and above all healthy nails is yours regular and adequate care.
It is particularly important that the nails are cut correctly: This means:

  • using a sharp and stainless cutting tool and
  • trimming back to the correct length.

Too long nails can hit the shoe on the feet, for example, and thus lead to bruises. Too short nails do not adequately protect the nail bed, which can lead to Nail fungus and inflammation. In addition, it is advisable to take care of the nails with a nail protection preparation, i.e. a cream or oil that has a soothing effect and helps with the regeneration of the toenail.

Nail changes and nail diseases

Changes in the nail can have very different causes. Either they are pure cosmetic and only indicate poor care or incorrect footwear, but they can too Expression of local or even affecting the entire body Diseases be. Here are just a few common examples:

  • White spots on the nails indicate a lack of fusion of the individual nail plates. This could be for a number of reasons, including injury or the ingestion of certain Medication. Whether a calcium or magnesium deficiency can lead to these changes on the nails is still controversial.
  • Brittle nails indicate a lack of biotin vitamin which is necessary for the formation of the horny substance keratin.
  • Brownish discoloration under the toenail can either be caused by bruises or by skin cancer (malignant melanoma), which is why dark discolorations that persist for a long time should be clarified by a doctor. Medicines can also be the cause. In some cases the psoriasis for so-called oil stains, which can be difficult to distinguish from the changes mentioned above.
  • Are the nails yellowish discolored, this is an indication of the presence of psoriasis or nail fungus.

Nail fungus

The toenail thickens due to the fungal attack.

When infected with Nail fungus are the Nails usually in addition thickened and sometimes the toenail comes off even off. Nail fungus is not uncommon, especially on toenails, according to estimates, for example a third of Germans Adult under nail fungus (Onychomycosis) on the toes.
Because the nail fungus contrary to popular belief does not necessarily go away on its own, it is always advisable to consult a doctor if you suspect it. If nail fungus remains undetected for a long time, it can spread further and further and also attack surrounding nails.
In the worst case, he also ensures that the complete nail plate destroyed becomes. Treatment of nail fungus is now quite possible, but it can be a lengthy process; It can take half a year until a completely healthy new toenail has grown back. However, it is Therapy very effective and nowadays can either local or systemic respectively.
Preparations containing active substances (for example Ciclopirox) applied directly to the nails, other substances are used systemically, for example Terbinafine or Itraconazole.

You can find further information under our topic: Nail fungus

Yellow toenail

If a toenail appears yellow, it may various causes to have. On the one hand, the yellow change on the toenail can be seen as part of a so-called "Yellow nail syndrome“Occur. Here it comes as a result of a permanent Congestion of lymph fluid in the Legs to the fact that the nails no longer grow back sufficiently quickly. However, further backgrounds have not yet been fully clarified. When this syndrome occurs additionally another yellow color Increase in nail thickness and an increased accumulation of Fluid in the lungs on.

A other cause a yellow toenail can be colonized with a Athlete's foot be. The nail is then also that it is yellow, thickened and has on Stability and strength lost. A treatment with Medication against a fungal infection can help here.

If the toenail has yellow spots, these can be an indication of a psoriasis be.

Influences that have an external effect on the toenail and can discolour it yellow are, for example, certain Nail polishesthat are not completely removed by nail polish remover and discolor the nail itself. If you can safely rule out an external influence, it would be helpful to see a doctor or a foot specialist to clarify the cause.

Toenail is blue

If a toenail is discolored blue, this can essentially be the case two different backgrounds to have. Are next to that one toenail all others also blue does this indicate a so-called "cyanosis“Down.That means something like a blue discoloration behind the one too low hemoglobin saturation in the blood with oxygen. On the one hand there can be a malfunction of an organsuch as the lungs with a connective tissue change or that heart, in form of Heart failure, plug in, or just one slowed blood flow at the foot that by cold can be caused. One is a problem with the oxygen content of the blood, the other is an excessive consumption of oxygen. At Rewarm of the feet and at the same time Increase in blood flow in the toes, the blue color goes back again. Should an organic disorder be the cause, a visit to the doctor would certainly make sense.

If the blue toenail alone on, for example, after a injury to form a Bruise under the nail come, which takes on a dark blue color. It can several weeks last until the bruise is healed. Sometimes the injury is so bad that the toenail becomes detached from the nail bed. However, this usually heals very well and the nail grows back as usual.

Toenail no longer grows

Behind the fact that a toenail can no longer grow different mechanisms stuck. For one, it can be a strong one Injury to the toenail bedFor example, if a massive object is crushed or dropped, the nail root can be irreversibly damaged. The formation of a new toenail is then changed in such a way that the nail no longer seems to grow noticeably in length, but in height. As long as no further complaintssuch as pain, this situation is more likely unproblematic, with a clarification by a doctor would be recommended.

On the other hand, you can Infectionshow about a Nail fungus, attack the toenail and then change the nail structure in such a way that, similar to the nail injury, it no longer grows, but instead gets thicker. In addition, the nail loses its strength and becomes brittle, i.e. even if the toenail grows, the foremost part breaks off again and again. The difference here, however, is that through a customized treatment of the toenail, a allows normal growth again can be. Here, too, is the search for one Doctor useful to treat the toenail infection.