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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why do toenails become more curved as we Age?

I have both observed and been asked the question: Why do toenails become more curved as we age? The answer mainly lies in these 3 photos. It insures that we will have more problems with our toenails as we mature? I wonder what podiatrist I will see when I can not cut my own nails??

Here is a typical toenail that gets ingrown even with loose shoes and socks.

As you can see from the front view, the nail itself is not flat, but tremendously curved.

As we age our skin is more fragile and soft. When we walk, the  pressure on the bottom of the toe pushes the skin towards the growing nail. The added skin pressure on the side of the nail pushes in on the toenail and forces it downward. The nail physically can not grow flat due to the skin pressure, it is forced to grow downward or curved. Can you see how easy it is to get inflamed?


  1. I am having this same problem, but I am only 24 years old. Both the nails on my big toe are very curved. I have had problems not only with ingrown toenails, but the base of my toenail lost the cuticle, became inflamed and the whole nail had to be removed.
    How do you stop the toenail from growing curved like this?

    1. Sorry, but I do not know the answer to this one. Most podiatrists will conservatively treat the nail border several times, and if the problem keep coming back, remove the border (around 3-4 mm) permanently with a procedure called a chemical matrixectomy. The nail is permanently narrowed, but will never ingrown again. I hope this helps. Rich
      I do have patients pushing cotton under the nail borders, but I am unsure if this works.

  2. This is exactly what Iam going through, But what is the answer? What do you do to fix or prevent it???

    1. Sorry, it is an observation, but I have no answers. Rich


Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.

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