Despite their small size, the health of your toes plays a large role in the condition of your feet and they may indicate issues with the rest of your body. Toes are often overlooked when it comes to foot care, but paying attention to your toes and toenails could save you from more pain and complications in the future. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact our expert podiatrists immediately so we can provide you with the care needed to keep you healthy, happy, and on your feet. 



Discolored toenails

Your toenails should generally appear translucent and flesh-colored. If your toenails look like they have a yellowish hue, this could indicate that you are developing a fungus. A safe way to determine if your yellowish toenails are a result of a fungus is if your toenails are stiff or flaking. Another reason this may occur is that you’ve been wearing nail polish for too long, as polish doesn’t allow your toenails to breathe. Avoid discolored toenails by regularly keeping your toes free from nail polish and applying an antifungal cream as prescribed. 


The color of your toenails can also indicate issues in the rest of your body. Thick, yellow toenails may be warning signs of underlying lung problems, thyroid issues, or psoriasis, which occurs when skin cells build up and form dry, itchy patches. When in doubt, it's always best to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist and to see what may be causing the discoloration.


Toenail divots (spoon-shaped toenails)

Have you noticed spoon-shaped divots in your toenails? When divots appear that are deep enough to hold a water droplet, you’re most likely experiencing koilonychia, which is a nail disease that often points toward hypochromic anemia. Hypochromic anemia normally is the result of an iron deficiency or iron over-production. This can inhibit the blood supply to your toes and to your fingers, causing the “spoon nail.” Make sure that you’re consuming an adequate amount of iron every day to prevent this condition from occurring. 


Swollen toes

Do your toes seem plumper or wider than normal? This may signify underlying heart disease, lung cancer, or intestinal illness that is causing fluid buildup in your body and making itself evident in your toes. If only your big toe is swollen, red, hot to the touch, or painful in any other way, get emergency medical attention as soon as possible because this may indicate infection, arthritis, or an inflammatory disorder like gout. Your podiatrist can help you identify and/or rule out any of these issues.



Holes in your toenails often indicate nail psoriasis. Most individuals with this issue may also experience ridges or grooves in their nails. However, if you aren’t diagnosed with psoriasis and yet you’re finding holes in your nails, you should contact a doctor and have it checked out. A few ways to prevent nail psoriasis include keeping your nails trimmed short, filing your nail edges, and wearing shoes with enough room for your toes.


Red lines

Thin, reddish-brown lines on your toenails are called splinter hemorrhages. They may indicate you have small blood clots damaging your capillaries, which are the blood vessels connecting arteries to veins. These lines could also indicate endocarditis, which is a serious inflammation of the heart valve that requires immediate medical attention. Individuals who are most vulnerable to this condition often have heart problems, weakened immune systems, or pacemakers. If red lines appear, please seek medical attention right away.


Keeping an eye on your toes to routinely check for any abnormalities is crucial to your body’s overall well-being. Your toes are tiny extremities that can reveal larger, underlying problems earlier on, allowing you to address the issues before they become too serious. 


Schedule an appointment at Martin Foot and Ankle by calling (717) 757-3537 to have any of the above symptoms or unusual discrepancies examined by a podiatrist. Our experts are fully equipped to assess your symptoms and treat them with the best option for you.

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