weird pinky toenail

For any beach lover, water baby, or open-toed shoe aficionado, fear of discovery for having a weird pinky toenail looms large. With that in mind, it has often been dubbed a fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy: accidentally stubbing your pinky toe. For such a small, delicate thing, you’d be surprised at how pesky pinky toes can be, and how disfigured and weird-looking pinky toenails are not only a sight for sore eyes, but can also be potential health hazards.

What Causes Weird Pinky Toenails?

The pinky toe may seem tiny and unassuming, but don’t be fooled by its appearance. This little guy—or gal—actually has a purpose. It does quite a number when it comes to protecting the rest of your toes from the impact of tight shoes. But if you find that your pinky toenail looks as if it’s seen better days, or if you’ve had a lifetime of looking at that and just aren’t cool with it, there are several possible causes behind a deformed pinky toenail.

Fungal Infections

First up is a fungal infection. More often than not, these sorts of infections affect not only the toes, but can also spread to include the skin and hair. When this gets really bad, that’s when damage and discoloration in the toenails start to appear, which leads to the nails becoming crumbly, flaky, and thick. Not the best look for flaunting your feet.

Fungal infections aren’t the easiest to treat, but recovery is possible. Start by considering the use of an over-the-counter cream targeted to reduce the symptoms. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to pay a visit to your local podiatrist. The effects of toenail infections last for much longer so once you’ve gotten rid of it, pay special attention to your daily routines to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Toe Stubbing, Tight Shoes, Accidents

If you’re more prone to tripping over your own two feet, it might help to know that unattractive pinky toenails are also caused by continuous impacts to the nail bed. Accidentally bash your poor toes into enough table edges and this can result in lasting damage to the roots of your nail, which will force them to grow in an abnormal manner. Reducing friction on the pinky toe can help to avoid problems.

An Ingrown Toenail On Your Pinky Toe

Another reason for weird pinky toes are ingrown toenails. This is a fairly common condition that occurs when the nail begins to grow into the skin next to it, making your toe tender and inflamed. Treating it with topical cream or nipping the extra nail off will usually set it right.

Why Is My Pinky Toenail So Small?

Pinky toenails—as their name suggests—are obviously meant to be significantly smaller than, say, the big toe. Naturally, they also have way less room to grow. But if you notice that your pinky toenail is small enough that it’s practically nonexistent, then it might be time to reassess your footwear. Remember, pinky toes bear the brunt of too-tight shoes compared to your other toes, so if you frequently kick it in loafers and heels that are a size too small, this will hinder the nail’s growth.

Unfortunately, there also isn’t much in the way of biology that will encourage your nail to grow beyond its capacity. You can try growing your pinky toenail out as long as it will go, but once it starts to snag on your socks or tights, you also risk catching an infection. The problem lies in the nail bed itself, and if your nail bed is short, so is your nail. The good news is, it’s less likely to hurt when you inadvertently stub it.

What Causes Double Pinky/Split Toenails?

Double toenails is a term for when your nail appears to be split right down the middle so that you have two toenails growing parallel to each other. This extra bit is also known as the “sixth toenail” and is an inherited genetic trait that skips generations. If the extra nail itself isn’t bothering you, there’s no pressing need to get it removed. However, if it grows out in such a way that it snags on your clothes and other fabrics to result in painful tears, then surgery is a viable option. Loosened nails can also lead to infection, so getting rid of the extra nail altogether might be worth the trouble.

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Why Pinky Toenails Grow Up, Not Out

If your pinky toenail grows upward towards the sky, this is referred to as “ski jump toenails” as their curved shape lends the appearance of the nail making a jump from the nail bed, similar to a ski slope. This happens when the nail bed is so small there isn’t any more room for the nail to grow except upward. Other reasons have to do with the nail’s natural growth patterns, ill-fitting shoes that force the toenails to contort into irregular shapes, and profuse foot sweat. To avoid this, it’s advisable to wear proper footwear and trim and file your nails down to size.

In addition, ski jump toenails can also be the result of a toenail disorder or fungal infection. If you suspect more serious grounds behind this phenomenon, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a licensed physician to discuss more aggressive treatment options.

pretty pinky toenail

How To Fix Your Weird Pinky Toenail Appearance

The cause of less-than-stellar-looking pinky toenails usually boils down to genetic growth patterns. However, that’s not to say there aren’t ways to spruce up their appearances a little. You might be unable to force your nail beds to accommodate more nail growth or slimmer shapes, but by regularly trimming and filing your toenails, this will keep them in line for much longer. You should also take care to practice general hygiene when it comes to your feet. Refrain from walking around barefoot on the slimy tiles of a gym or public pool, and by drying between the toes with a towel.

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For those who tend to be more cosmetic conscious, consider investing in acrylic toenails. They’re simple enough to do yourself at home. They will provide you with an endless array of options for brightening up your toenails. (This is a good temporary option if you really do have what you consider to be a deformed pinky toenail that you want to cover up.) The pinky toenail may be more trouble than it’s worth, so try to do all you can to keep it in good health and great shape.