Double Pinky Toenails: What Is an Accessory Nail?

April 16, 2019

Learn more about “sixth toenails” from a Concord NC foot surgeon.

You may have noticed when trimming your toenails that one of your toes—most likely your pinky toe—appears to be split lengthwise down the middle, so that you have two toenails growing side-by-side. In podiatry, these tiny “sixth toenails” are called “accessory nails”, or “double toenails.” Below, you can learn more about this unusual condition.

Why Do I Have a Double Toenail?

Double toenails, not to be confused with split toenails, are an inherited, genetic trait. In other words, no, you did not drop something on your toenail when you were a child, causing your nail to split permanently. Split toenails will eventually grow back in one piece, whereas a double toenail will continue to grow back exactly the way it was.

Double toenails are most likely the initial form of a hexadactyly (a sixth finger or toe). It is a recessive feature, so it may skip a few generations. This explains the general confusion about its origins—most people attribute the split to a forgotten injury, when in fact they probably inherited it from a distant relative.

Accessory Nail Removal – Good or Bad Idea?

If your accessory nail is not bothering you, there is no medical reason to remove it, although some people opt to have them removed for cosmetic purposes. However, if the nail is constantly catching on your clothes and socks, causing it to painfully rip or tear, podiatric surgery may be a good idea. The loosened nail may cause bacteria and fungi, which thrive near the feet, to enter the open wound and cause a number of problems. If your double toenail is constantly being ripped out, ask a foot surgeon about toenail removal surgery, also called a matricectomy.

Why You Should Not Remove an Accessory Nail Yourself

You may be tempted to take a pair of tweezers and rip out the extra toenail yourself. We strongly advise against doing this. First of all, it will not work—the condition is genetic, and the nail will grow back as it was. Secondly, you will be placing yourself at high risk of fungal infections, for reasons mentioned above. And finally, because ripping out your own toenail is much more painful than what a professional podiatric surgeon would do! Your body is too important to injure unnecessarily—so if your accessory nail is impacting your quality of life, make sure to see a foot surgeon near you.

Need a Foot Surgeon In Concord NC? Call Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic

If you are in need of a foot surgeon in Concord NC or Harrisburg NC, be sure to give us a call to schedule an appointment. Our experienced foot surgeons will diagnose any symptoms and help you undergo a safe, effective treatment.