Nail Problems

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Nail Problems

A healthy set of nails should be smooth, strong and uniform in colour. However, the shape and hue of your nails can change depending on your health status or age – vertical ridges may develop over time, while brittleness becomes more common as you get older. These changes are generally non-harmful; any spots caused by injury will disappear with the growth of your nail bed.

Taking care of your nails isn’t limited to trimming and filing; rather, it is a more holistic process.

Abnormalities – Common finger and hand injuries, viral warts (periungual warts), infections (onychomycosis), as well as certain medications, including chemotherapy drugs, can lead to discolouration, nail separation or spots.

The state of your fingernails can alter due to certain medical conditions. While these changes may be discernible, they are not enough evidence to establish a diagnosis on their own. Your physician will then use this information, as well as other symptoms you have experienced and the results from any physical exams that have been conducted, to make an accurate diagnosis.

If you notice any of the following changes in your nails, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition and requires professional attention:

  • Discolouration (dark streaks, white streaks, or changes in nail colour)
  • Changes in nail shape (curling or clubbing)
  • Changes in nail thickness (thickening or thinning)
  • Nails that become brittle
  • Nails that are pitted
  • Bleeding around nails
  • Swelling or redness around nails
  • Pain around nails
  • A nail separating from the skin


Frequently Asked Questions

Discoloured nails can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Fungal infections: a common cause of nail discolouration. The nail may appear yellow or brown and become thick or brittle.
  • Trauma: Trauma to the nail bed or the nail can cause discolouration. This may include a bruise or a blood clot under the nail, which can cause the nail to turn black or blue.
  • Psoriasis: can affect the nails and may cause them to become thickened and discoloured.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as insufficient vitamin B12 or iron, can cause the nails to become discoloured.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy, can cause nail discolouration.
  • Smoking: can cause the nails to become yellowed or browned.
  • Medical conditions:  such as liver disease or diabetes, can cause changes in the colour and texture of the nails.
  • Nail polish: Frequent use of nail polish can stain the nails, causing them to become discoloured.


If you are concerned about discoloured nails, it’s important to speak with a dermatologist to help evaluate the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Thickened nails can have several causes, including:

  • Fungal infections: Fungal infections are the most common cause of thickened nails. The fungus can infect the nail bed and cause the nail to thicken, become discoloured, and crumble.


  • Trauma: Trauma to the nail or the nail bed can cause thickening. This may include a single injury or repeated minor trauma, such as wearing tight shoes.


  • Ageing: As people age, their nails can become thickened and brittle.


  • Medical conditions: such as psoriasis, diabetes, and peripheral artery disease, can cause the thickening of the nails.


  • Medications: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy, can cause thickened nails.


  • Poor circulation: Poor circulation to the toes can cause the nails to thicken and become discoloured.


  • Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to thickened nails.


  • Poor nail hygiene:  such as not keeping nails clean and dry, can lead to fungal infections and thickened nails.


It’s important to see a dermatologist if having thickened nails is your concern. Treatment may involve medication or surgery to remove the affected nail. In some cases, lifestyle changes, such as improved nail hygiene or footwear choices, can help prevent thickened nails from developing.

Fungal nail infections, medically named “onychomycosis”, can have various characteristics depending on the severity and type of infection. Here are some common features:

  • Discolouration: The nail may become yellow, brown, or white.
  • Thickening: The nail may thicken and become distorted, making it difficult to cut.
  • Crumbling: The nail may become brittle and begin to crumble or flake.
  • Separation: The nail may separate from the nail bed, causing a gap between the nail and the skin.
  • Odour: The infected nail may have a foul odour.
  • Pain: In some cases, the infected nail may be painful, especially if the infection spreads to the surrounding skin.
  • Spread: The infection may spread to other nails or the surrounding skin.


Fungal nail infections can be caused by various types of fungi and can occur in both fingernails and toenails. They are more common in toenails and can be caused by exposure to damp environments, poor hygiene, or compromised immune systems. Should you suspect you have a fungal nail infection, it’s important to see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may involve oral or topical antifungal medications or in severe cases, surgical removal of the infected nail may be recommended.

Dr Miller is here to help

dr natalie miller

Dr. Natalia Miller

Are you struggling with chronic disfigured nails? You may be dealing with fungal nail infection. It can be a persistent and bothersome condition and a long journey to get better. If you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, Dr Miller can offer a helping hand and encourage you to take the steps necessary to regain your confidence and nail health.

Dr Miller will thoroughly review your medical background and evaluate both the nail and nearby tissue to arrive at a precise diagnosis. If deemed essential, she may take samples of the nail or debris for further investigation in order to validate her conclusions. After all pertinent information has been gathered, Dr Miller will discuss potential treatment options with you while making sure that they are suitable for your needs.