Oh no! What happened to this nail? Some poor person must have gotten into an unfortunate accident with a bike.
This used to be a beautiful, pink and healthy big toenail, but it had to be removed. Not because of direct trauma from being run over by something, though. You might be surprised to learn that all this damage was caused by just a fungus! A very nasty one.
Infectious fungal spores can be found in places where many people walk around barefooted. Think gym showers, swimming pools, pedicure and reflexology places. Once the fungus enters the nail it eats away at a substance called keratin. Keratin is like the cement that holds the nail together. The nail then weakens, thickens, changes colour and when left untreated becomes disfigured like this nail. This can be painless (at least physically), but more often than not it’s a painful process.
Treatment is reasonably simple when spotted early, as it is just a matter of applying anti-fungal medications to kill the growing fungus. When left longer the nail responds poorly to treatment, and the fungus would have propagated so much that medications may not work as effectively. That is when the entire nail may need to be removed.
It is best to inspect your nails and feet regularly if you feel you are being exposed to places that may harbour fungal spores, and make sure you wash and dry them thoroughly after visiting. If you detect any changes in colour or thickness of your nails visit your podiatrist for an assessment.