Why toenails fall off from running

By September 6, 2017Blog
feet in sandals with bandage on big toes

Toenails. They are something we do not typically think about very often. But if you or someone you know has ever lost one after becoming a serious runner, it is something you might think about a lot more. Ouch!

For many runners, losing toenails is just something that happens. Toenails usually take about six months to grow back, and when they do grow back, the new nail is thicker than the old nail. Runners don’t really think about ways to stop it from happening.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent this painful and unsightly loss of toenail.

How can runners protect their toenails?

Here are some tips for taking care of your precious little toenails:

  • Focus on your shoes – The first way to avoid losing your toenails is to make sure you have the right shoes. You should have the width of a thumb between the tip of your toe and the front of your running shoe. Doctors also recommend wearing two pairs of socks for your long runs.
  • Moisturize those toenails – Doctors recommend that you put urea lotion on your toenails before you put on your running shoes. They say it’s the best kind of moisturizer on the market. Doctors also say you can try coconut oil to moisten the nail – and tea tree oil to combat fungus.
  • Eat healthy – When you don’t eat nutritious foods, it can make your nails weaker. Also, it won’t help your running either!
  • Keep your toenails “square” – When you get a pedicure or do your toenails yourself, you tend to get a round-shaped nail. That’s not what you want if you’re a runner. Go for the square-shaped toenail.
  • Tend to your injured toenails immediately – If you take off your shoes and see a gross toenail (i.e. black and blue), you should tend to it. Quickly. You need to clean your toenails, then treat with an antibiotic cream or ointment. After, soak your feet in peppermint tea. It reduces the oxygenless blood under the nail. You can also try soaking your toenails in epsom salt.
  • Keep the nail on – Don’t try to pull your toenail off yourself. Trust us. If it’s hanging on and causing problems, try taping it up first before you call your doctor and have it removed by a pro. If you absolutely have to pull it off yourself, snip it. Carefully.
  • Care for your nail, even when it’s not there – When your nail is gone, you need to use a topical antifungal on the spot where the nail once was. When your new nail is growing back, try using a buffer – along with moisturizers – to thin out the new nail since it will likely be thicker than your old one.

If you or someone you know is losing toenails because of running, call or stop by an Urgent Care clinic today for help.