So, maybe it was a little too much Quickstep,
or perhaps my toenails were overdue for a pedicure,
or it could have been the shoes were a BIT too small,
but whatever caused it, the result was both big toenails completely black and blue…and very sore!
Those poor toes were jammed between the shoe and floor relentlessly and now I’m PAYING for it.
Bruised and broken toenails, though, are par for the course for dancers!
Even a couple of months later, I’ve been forced to hide the ugliness of those bruised nails with dark nail polish, as they slowly grow out.
Hope on the horizon, though, as the new growth is a healthy pink, but boy, it takes a long time!
I was going to post a raw photo of the injured toenails, but deemed it too graphic for sensitive readers (especially if you’re catching up on your blog reading during lunch.)
Instead, I’m posting a lovely portrait of them with the scary part pixelated-you’re welcome 🙂
Every dancer (and other athletes, too, like runners) goes through toenail trouble.
Some of the common conditions are:
- painful ingrown toenails
- nail bruises
- or even losing a toenail
Much like getting a papercut, it’s funny to think that an injury to such a tiny part of your body (like a toenail) can cause SO MUCH PAIN!
But, when you use your FEET as much as most people use their hands (shoutout, Dancers!), having an injured toenail can be quite a setback.
The Gory Details
Although the pain of the bruising healed rather quickly, the aftermath looks so much worse, as the nails are terribly discolored. Worse yet, as the months passed, I realized that a significant horizontal ridge had developed across the nail at the point of injury.
The new nail that is growing in isn’t raised, in contrast to where the bruise had developed.
And another creepy development from the injury-the nail is now disconnected from the nail bed from the ridge up. (ah, Gross!)
Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to be losing the toenail pretty soon. 😕
With toenail growth being so slow, I wanted to check out my options for both keeping the nail bed healthy and also any cosmetic fix that would tide me over until the nail fully recovers.
Dancer’s Hero: the Podiatrist
So, I turned to every dancer’s friend, the PODIATRIST!
If you don’t have a podiatrist in your support team, I highly recommend it.
These doctors are foot specialists with iron stomachs and have seen it all.
You can go to them without fear of them being shocked by the hideous state of your dancer feet. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting the help you need!
I called upon Dr. Luyen Pham, DPM, for the 411 to my 911 toenail situation. Here’s what I learned:
Melissa: What’s the deal with ridge?
Dr. Pham: Under the toenail is a thin layer of skin, and when the toenail is traumatized, you also injure that skin. You need it to be intact for the foundation of the nail. When it gets thick, it causes the nail to get thick too. This skin of the nail bed cornifies, so the result is the nail growing over it thickens, too.
Melissa: How do I keep the nail bed healthy, once the damaged nail falls off?
Dr. Pham: Cover it with a bandage that is breathable, so as not to trap moisture. If it gets too wet, it can create a fungal situation.
Melissa: Can I use nail polish on the injured nail? How can I help the nail cosmetically?
Dr. Pham: Try filing the ridge flat. Let the nail rest, without polish for a while. Nail polish is an impermeable layer, so if moisture is trapped, it can promote fungus.
Melissa: How can I prevent this kind of injury again?
Dr. Pham: Keep the nails short. The nail tip should stay below the flesh of the toe. If it sticks out, it will be subjected to more stress.
There you have it! As with everything, prevention is key.
Sorry, Girls, but if you’re wearing closed toed shoes for ballroom or American Smooth, but you’ll have to keep the toenails short. (don’t let the manicurist convince you otherwise!)
If you’re like me and the damage is already done, we have to leave vanity aside for a while and pamper our piggies.
We ask a lot of our feet, so treat them well!
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