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What is onychophosis / subungal corns / corns under the toenails?

normal toenails
Unlike a true ingrown toenail, this condition looks normal.

Aside from true ‘ingrown toenails’ where the skin of the toe is red, swollen, bleeding and infected, there is another kind of painful nail problem which has a technical name that you most likely have never heard of  – onychophosis. Although painful, toes with onychophosis usually don’t look like they have much happening at all.

This is a really very common and probably makes up ~80% of the ‘ingrown toenails’ that come into our clinic.  In these cases, the nail is not actually piercing the the skin but rather a small nodule of very hard ‘corneum’ skin tissue grows in the gutter of skin along side the nail – ie a corn.  It is underneath the nail at this point and can be very painful, like you might imagine having a tiny pebble pushed under your nail would be.  The good news about these corns is that their removal is very straight forward and only rarely would you require even local anaesthetic to facilitate their removal. The corns themselves have no nerve supply (again like the pebble) and so can be trimmed away without pain. For more information, please browse to our Ingrown Toenail Info Sheet.  Alternatively, use this link to return to more information packed topics from the Podiatry FAQs Blog.

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