My pinky toenail split in half. Is that a problem? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Just this week, I got a call from an injured runner about a new problem. I’ve seen him before for some other issues, but in this case, he said that he thought maybe he actually had an ingrown toenail on his pinky or that the toenail itself had split in half and it was bugging him a little bit and I said “Well, send me a picture. I’ll take a look and see.”
This is a problem that’s actually very common. In fact, I myself had this issue when I was in medical school, and at the time, I had absolutely no idea that it was a problem or even what it was until this lecture in med school where it was explained and I went home and I took a scalpel and actually trimmed it down. I figured out that actually, I had the same thing.
So, let’s talk about this. It’s maybe helpful to draw a couple of pictures here. I know my drawings are not so great, but I’ll do the best I can. If we look at your toes, and let’s say we’re looking at the little pinky toe on the outside your foot over here and you’ve got the nail here. And you look at it, and it really looks like that you actually have, right next to it, you have developed what looks like a completely separate little nail over here and it looks like it’s split down the middle.
Well, that is a very common thing that happens and if you look at the toe from the side where this is your pinky toe and your other toes, they’re sitting over here like this, and so on and you look at the nail. Well first of all, many times the pinky toes that they’re rotated a little bit. So, what happens is you have normal nails here, and then you get a thing that really does look like you have a second sort of nail sitting over here, like that. And it seems completely separate as if it split down the middle.
But that is actually not a nail at all in most cases. So, most of the time what happens is because the toe is tilted, the shoe actually rubs against the edge of the nail, and you start forming callus right here on the edge of the nail. This thing actually has a name. It’s actually called a lister’s corn and it’s just a hard callus and so I take a scalpel, I start trimming it down and then you see that underneath it is actually all supple skin. There’s no nail bed. It doesn’t bleed when you trim it down but sometimes this rubbing on the shoe, rubbing inside the shoe at the edge of the toe, when it just rubs against that nail, the rigidity of the nail, the skin getting pushed against it causes a really thick callus to form. And because it’s right at the edge of the nail, it looks like a completely separate nail, and it can get super hard almost as hard as a toenail. And when you have it if it gets thicker and it actually causes pain, well then that can be a problem.
But in itself if you have it, if you just look at your toenail and your little pinky toenail has what looks like a split in the middle, but it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t bother. It’s not a problem at all. So, it’s not a thing you have to go see a podiatrist for in most cases, only if it’s causing pain if it’s red, if it’s irritated, something like that is when you should really get it evaluated, but it’s a curiosity question I seem to get a lot and most of the time it’s not a problem. But that is a thing called a lister’s corn. Corn is just basically hard skin in one spot but anyway if you have it maybe you noticed it and maybe haven’t but take a look and see if you do have and if you think you’ve got it, let me know in the comments if you have it and whether or not you’ve actually thought it was a problem.
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