A toe hangnail you get as regular as utility bills.
An accessory toenail that regenerates no matter how many times you rip it out.
You cut it back, it grows back. You yank it out and its spiky little head rears again.
This vexatious little nail flourishes on the outside of your little toe. Most aren't sure what they are (including quite a lot of Podiatrists).
How do you get rid of this PITA split pinky toenail? And what the hell is a Lister Corn?
Do You Have An Accessory Toenail That Keeps Coming Back?
Your sixth toenail is genetic. It hasn't been caused by any one thing.
It's a separate mini-nail that has its own mini-nail bed.
They're made worse by tight shoes, so are more common in women.
Your split pinky toenail is sometimes known as a petaloid toenail or Lister corn.
Podiatry is a job of extremes. One minute, I'm soothing wrecked shellac nails.
The next, I squint to see a dwarf petaloid nail tucked away in the corner of your pinky toe.
Remember the J-Lo song "Ain't it Funny"? (The good version, with Ja Rule).
Well, ain't it funny how little thing bother us the most: hair in take-outs, someone not liking a Facebook post and itty bitty little toenails.
I'd say I treat split little toe nails once every few months. I wouldn't call them rare; but they're far from everyday.
Accessory Toenail/Split Pinky Toenail Causes
Instead of causes, the title should be: "what makes them worse".
Because accessory little toenails are passed down from your relatives. Yep, you've plucked it from your family tree.
They develop (get worse) when your little toes rub inside your shoes.
Thousands of daily steps that shear and chafe. You don't even notice this — it builds over time.
Once it grows, a vicious cycle begins. The nail build-up attracts more pressure and friction.
More pressure means the extra nail grows — so the Catch-22 continues.
But There's a (Toe) Twist...
Most people with accessory toenails have little toes that rotate.
Before you freak out, it's not serious. In fact twisty toes are super common.
This means the split pinky toenail twists towards your shoe and forces the outer edge of your nail to absorb walking force.
It rasps against your unforgiving footwear fabric.
Now, nails, like corns, adapt to excess pressure 'n' friction. And when I say adapt, I mean get thick.
(Ask anyone who wears steel-toed boots)
Lister Corn vs Accessory Nail vs Split Pinky Toenail
Sometimes, you'll see accessory toenails called Lister or Durlacher corns. Here in the UK that's pretty much what they're known as.
To be fair, I can see the confusion; pinky toes are no stranger to painful conditions.
These extra little nails look very similar to corns on your little toe.
(Though it's better to have a problem outside, instead of between your toes, trust me)
Sixth Nail Confirmed (By Science)
But a recent study* confirmed that it is in fact, a nail. A mini sixth one.
58 patients were studied over thirteen years. When their accessory nails were examined, they had the same structure as nails complete with nail bed and matrix (where it grows from).
They were just much smaller.
I think the Lister corn misnomer is because like corns, pressure and footwear aggravate them.
Your Accessory Toenail Is Genetic
Another paper** looked at four members of one family (all female) who had "double little toenails".
They ranged in age from six to fifty-four.
Appearance wise (above), they are textbook accessory pinky-toe nails. Also note the toe rotation.
How Podiatrists Remove Split Pinky Toenails
The Thorn (in Your Toe)
Some Podiatrists dig out accessory toenails with a blade. It's painless; but not an approach I use straight off the bat.
For me, treatment depends on a few factors.
First of all, is it bothering you? Petaloid nails rarely cause huge problems, clinically speaking.
If it is, then accessory toenails tend to manifest in one of two ways.
The first is as a thorn-like spike of nail that points off diagonally.
In this case, I soften and nip down as short as is comfortable before smoothing off.
The second type of split pinky nail I see are embedded.
They press deep into your flesh and I need to coax them out.
For these, I apply a healthy dollop of foot cream to your pinky toenail and let it soak in.
This loosens and separates the hard nail from your soft skin. I usually then gently prize up the nub 'o' nail and nip back.
If you have a little toe that's really rotated out, I may make a custom silicon wedge.
Positioned right, this props the little toe upwards and away from some of that relentless friction.
How Can You Get Rid Of Your Split Pinky Toenail?
Remember, you're dealing with a nail. If you yank it out, it'll grow back unless you have the nail bed killed off.
Sometimes it will bleed. If it doesn't, then happy days.
Innie or outie, another way is to grow it out, cut it short and then thin it.
The best way to do this is use pointed nippers and good foot cream.
(The right shape nippers allow you to get the right angle and leverage)
Take it back far enough so it's just about "feelable"; but not visible.
I then apply Gehwol Mint and leave it soak in a few minutes. This will practically dissolve whatever remains.
Remember: foot cream works on nails. Toenails are just super thick layers of keratin.
(Plus if you put it anywhere on your feet it will also get rid of any other hard skin)
If you really want it disappeared, run an emery board over it.
But I Want It Gone, Forever! - Accessory Toenail Surgery
To be fair, there's a hell of a lot more worse foot problems you could have.
But, if your sixth nail is really troublesome - and you want it gone for good - you need surgery.
Remember: you also need to kill off the nail matrix where the split pinky toenail grows from.
This is performed under local anesthetic, and as toe surgeries go, it's as mild as it gets.
It's rare to see ones this bad though; they're easy to keep on top of once you know what they are.
Women (Have Worse Feet Than Men)
Yep, and it's all down to that ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).