Why Does My Toenail Grow Sideways?

If you’ve ever noticed that your toenail grows sideways instead of straight, you may be wondering why it happens. There are several reasons why this can occur, ranging from improper nail trimming techniques to genetic factors. Understanding the causes behind sideways toenail growth can help you prevent and manage this issue. In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to sideways toenail growth and provide you with useful tips on how to address this problem.

Ingrown Toenails

One of the most common causes of sideways toenail growth is an ingrown toenail. When a toenail becomes ingrown, it means that it starts to curve and grow into the surrounding skin instead of growing straight. This can cause pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area. Ingrown toenails usually occur due to improper nail trimming techniques or wearing tight-fitting shoes that put pressure on the toenail. Additionally, certain genetic factors and foot deformities can increase the likelihood of developing ingrown toenails.

To prevent ingrown toenails, it is important to trim your nails straight across and avoid cutting them too short. Wearing properly fitted shoes that provide enough room for your toes to move freely can also help alleviate the risk of ingrown toenails. If you already have an ingrown toenail, soaking your feet in warm water and applying an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment may provide some relief. In severe cases, a medical professional may need to intervene and perform a minor procedure to remove the ingrown portion of the nail.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can also contribute to sideways toenail growth. When a toenail becomes infected with fungus, it can weaken and deform the nail, causing it to grow in irregular directions. Fungal toenail infections, also known as onychomycosis, can result from walking barefoot in damp environments such as public showers or swimming pools, sharing contaminated nail clippers or files, and having sweaty feet trapped in tight shoes for extended periods.

If you suspect a fungal infection in your toenail, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Antifungal medications, both topical and oral, are commonly prescribed to eliminate the infection and promote healthy toenail growth. Maintaining proper foot hygiene, keeping your feet dry, and avoiding sharing personal nail care items can help prevent fungal infections and their associated sideways nail growth.

Toe Trauma

Another factor that can cause sideways toenail growth is trauma to the toe. Stubbing your toe or dropping a heavy object on it can cause damage to the nail matrix, the area where nail growth originates. As a result, the toenail may grow abnormally and deviate from its usual straight growth pattern.

If you have experienced toe trauma and notice sideways toenail growth, it is important to ensure that the nail is not infected or damaged further. Keeping the area clean, applying a sterile bandage if necessary, and avoiding excessive pressure on the toenail can allow it to heal properly. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to correct the nail’s growth trajectory.

Genetic Factors

Sometimes, sideways toenail growth can be attributed to genetic factors. Certain individuals may have inherited a predisposition for abnormal nail growth patterns, including sideways growth. If you have a family history of sideways toenail growth or other nail abnormalities, there may be a genetic component involved.

Unfortunately, there is no specific prevention for genetic factors contributing to sideways toenail growth. However, maintaining good foot hygiene, avoiding trauma to the nails, and wearing properly fitted shoes can help minimize any potential complications or discomfort associated with this genetic predisposition.

Other Underlying Conditions

In some cases, sideways toenail growth may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Conditions such as psoriasis, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy can affect the health and growth of toenails, causing them to grow abnormally. If you notice persistent sideways toenail growth accompanied by other symptoms like changes in nail color, thickening of the nails, or pain, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions that may require specialized treatment.

Table: Tips to Prevent Sideways Toenail Growth

Proper Nail Trimming– Trim nails straight across
– Avoid cutting them too short
Footwear– Wear properly fitted shoes
– Provide enough room for toes to move freely
Foot Hygiene– Keep feet clean and dry
– Avoid sharing nail clippers or files

In conclusion, sideways toenail growth can be caused by various factors such as ingrown toenails, fungal infections, trauma, genetic predispositions, and underlying medical conditions. By practicing proper nail care, maintaining good foot hygiene, and seeking medical attention when necessary, you can prevent and manage sideways toenail growth effectively. Remember, if you have concerns about your toenail health, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.