Skin, Hair & Nails

Get Email Updates

Skin, Hair & Nails Guide

Rosa Cabrera RN

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

ask: Is two toenails uncommon? Should I be concerned?

I have a toe nail that appears to have two toenails growing...literally one on top of the other. Should I be concerned about this? It doesn't hurt at all but it just odd.

Add a Comment42 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This happened to my big toe in 2008 after going thru cancer treatment. I continue to have it and now also noticed a nail growing underneath a nail on a center toe. Doesn't hurt. Top nail eventually peels off. Have so many other side effects after having head cancer twice now I haven't worried about it. Glad to see it's not just me.

February 21, 2014 - 4:53pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

My middle toes on both feet have 2 layers, one will grow under the top pushing the top off from the cuticle area of my nail, after a little time, I can lift the toenail from the cuticle and cut it off piece by piece, slowly until the under nail has grown out completely. I wouldn't recommend "ripping it off" like an earlier post said. In time you can clip the top nail completely away and have a new nail. Problem is if you like to paint your nails, makes it difficult when the under nail starts pushing the upper nail off, looks really weird. Last week something new happened though, my pinky toenail came completely off, just lifted right off without any nail under it. None of the nails hurt but it kind of freaks me out, it reminded me a lot of the movie, "The Fly", when he started pulling his nails off......... WEIRD!!! I'm just worried that it might be a vitamin deficiency and it the toenails are the first warning signs....... ugh! If anyone knows cures, I'm all ears

December 19, 2012 - 9:48pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

The second toenail on the pinky toe is actually called a lister corn. I'm 31 and I've had this on both pinky toes for about 10 years. Google "lister corn" and learn more about it.

October 30, 2012 - 6:18am
SkaterTow

This is NOT medical advice but my story. Been there done that. The top nail dies. You can wait until beyond the time when it is too uncomfortable & basically grab the end tip of the nail & lift yanking it off hard peeling it off the base. Will be ugly & sore underneath with a tad of blood but wash it off & put an ointment / bandaids over it. Wash well every day & after about 2-3 days you will notice you got an entire clean new nail under it (was there all along). Or if it bothers you before the top nail is totally dead, dig out a corner and basically "LET IT RIP!" pulling it from one corner to the other tearing it off hard. You might have to do each end to get it all & even get straggler pieces the next day or two if you were really early (even “carve” off pieces) but, again, you will find a new thin nail underneath. The question then is did your injury (mine was long distance running) permanently damage your nail bed or a one time thing? If permanent the good news is toe nails grow very slowly but the bad news is you will have to do this again in 3 to 6 months. Note, I am a long distance runner who was always smashing toe nails against the inside of the shoes, blistering all over, sweating, & getting smashed nails leading to double nails. The answer for me has been wearing Injinji 5 toe socks with Vibram 5 Finger Shoes. The socks cushion each toe & keeps the moisture out so you do not blister. The shoes protect each tow. My longest tow next to the big fat one still hits the sneaker base a little but it is much softer material. The Vibram 5s take time getting use to so start slow & build up. They are not for everyone but once use to them they have been my miracle. I got over 450 miles out of my first pair & not a single blister. There is a slight hole at the end of the long tow sockets on each food so there is some friction there but it is much softer material than a regular sneaker. Yes, I know it is gross but I do “LET IT RIP” and I feel wonderful after!

June 20, 2012 - 4:34pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

It happens to me too; my second toe is slightly longer than my big toe so at times when I play sports it hits against the front of my shoe a fair bit. It doesn't happen a lot but when it does I notice the toenail is thicker than the rest, grows slower, and has ridges on it.

It doesn't hurt, and to get rid of it I'd try to find a place where it allows me to lift the nail up to separate it from the original nail, and if it doesn't cause me pain (sometimes it'll hurt from the sides where it is still attached to the cuticles) I'll clip the sides away and it will lift off entirely. It doesn't look too gross, just really bumpy looking due to the ridges. The bottom nail will look new and healthy.

Didn't see a doctor because it didn't cause me any pain, no blackening of nail like the other stories so I didn't think much of it but probably will if it starts giving me problems.

May 5, 2012 - 9:38am
Angelina Willium

This is not big issue. It is common, try to cover it by nail art.

April 20, 2012 - 12:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have 3 nails growing on top of each other on both my big toe, and I can see it growing longer from my top toe, it's kinda worrying me. It's obviously not normal and i don't know how it happened. Sometimes it hurts a little on the sides, I don't know what to do. Please Help! Any information or advice would be great!

September 23, 2011 - 10:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've been having the same problems (double nails on both big toes, ridges on second toes) for over a year and have just become convinced that the 'trauma' in my case is not cutting toenails regularly enough and wearing tights which pull on the nails. So perhaps trauma can be as simple as socks/ tights/ shoes pulling the nails back.

September 16, 2011 - 3:51pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have the same problem in both big toenails. They have a toenail bowing on top of mother toenail and I've had this problem for as far as I can remember. I'm currently seventeen and I've been to the podiatrist and they suggested to take both big toenails off. So they took off both nails and now they've grown back with the same problem and my podiatrist said I should wait and see what happens but as you know I'm a teenager and I want to wear open shoes but it's embarrassing so now my only alternative is to take this antifungal pill called Lamisil.

July 28, 2011 - 10:14am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

How bad does your big toe look? I mean, up until the time the toenail decides to separate from the one underneath and I pull or cut or otherwise get them apart (because they're already splitting) you totally can't tell there's two there.
Of course, once it's off then for about a month it's clear there's something going on with them.
Can you tell that there's two toenails there on a regular basis just by looking?
If not, then I'd refrain from taking anything. An antifungal doesn't seem like it would do anything to relieve my problem double toenails. I think I was just born this way.
This is gonna sound nutty but you know those nail file things they have for dogs? The one that spins? The last time my nails came apart, I let them grow back, but as they were, I gently filed the top layer so it couldn't get really thick like they do. So far it seems to be working. I just do it REALLY GENTLY when ever I notice it's thickening.
I'm not saying it'll work, just that it seems to help my situation.

Sorry you're going through this in your teens...just know you're not alone. Does keeping colored polish on them help to hide it?

July 29, 2011 - 12:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I had both of my big toenails removed yesterday and the podiatrist was really shocked because on my right foot I had two nails, there was a smaller one growing behind my nail but my nail hadn't become detached!

July 27, 2011 - 8:47am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Both of my pinkie toenails have ben like this for as long as I can remember. I'm almost 21 and I can remember them from elementary school. I don't recall any toe trauma (i think I would've remembered BOTH toes). I thought it was a fungus but slut of people say toe fungus is yellow. I'm african american and I see it in most of my family and alot of my friends. I see it consistently in african americans (men are worse). Its this really something that can be cured by a doctor or is this just a long standing ancestral trait that will last forever?
P.S.
My son (4) had regular toenails, but I can see the discoloration and thickness starting in his pinkie toes already.

July 19, 2011 - 8:09am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've had this my entire life, but only recently (in the last few years) realized what it was. I was never active as a child, and when I began walking and jogging I noticed my second toe nail had a kind of thickness under it. I keep my nails painted constantly and wear them a wee bit longer then the quick, so when I wear my tennis shoes, my second toes do have slight discomfort. When I remove my nail polish, I can see the underneath is a different color then my other toes, but this is a constant thing for me, and it's never really caused a problem, as far as pain goes. I've removed the top nail several times, but they both continue to grow, so I see no point going to the trouble. Mine is completely normal looking unless someone were to look underneath and my doctor said its not going to cause any problem. So, basically, unless its painful, just live with it. =]

July 6, 2011 - 8:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Im quite concered about my toe it seems that i have two toenails growing on my big toe. now and then it hurts but i havent notice it till a few weeks ago. but i dont think i have done any trauma to my toe? :/

June 9, 2011 - 11:19am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have this problem intermittently on both of my middle toes. Once or twice a year, I get two layers, but only on the outside half of my toe. Once it starts to lift, I cut it off to the point where it's one nail again (to avoid it catching on anything and pulling off), and then just let it grow out.

April 20, 2011 - 3:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I had this problem with my left big toe. I am not athletic so that was not the problem. I first noticed a ridge across my nail but thought nothing of it. Then one day the edge caught on my sock and became loose. I then removed it expecting a lot of pain and maybe even bleeding, to my surprise there was another nail underneath. It was not painful and doesn't bother me. But the "new" nail doesn't seem to be growing as fast as the others. Just kinda strange.

January 22, 2011 - 3:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I also have this problem on both of my second toes. My problems are from the toes being stomped on playing soccer. Both toes have been stomped on so heavily that the nail turned completely black and then fell off. Ever since this happened, both toes now always grow two nails.

My experience is much like one of the previous posters in that I have no pain but do get slight discomfort. When that happens I cut off the top nail (no blood or pain) to reveal a new baby nail growing underneath. It's almost as though once the top nail reaches a certain length it stops growing and a new one grows beneath.

Both toes have been like this for years now so I don't see it stopping!

November 18, 2010 - 9:18am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I brought it up with my doc. Basically said just to keep filling both the nails. And it wasn't worth taking any further unless it became a real issue... I.e put up wih a grosse nail unless it causes discomfort. No real advice. It seems for some people the top nail falls of quickly, others not so lucky and have this issue for years

October 4, 2010 - 5:40pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Pat...I've never had any bleeding but this last time I did have a discoloration under the right toe (I have one on each foot - the toe next to my big toe.)
I can't imagine what a doctor would do in my case.
The under nail is attached to the toe like a regular nail and the upper nail is growing right along with it and in my case, at some point they just seem to seperate and I can feel discomfort - not pain - just a feeling of pressure and sensitivity in my tennis shoes. That's when I know it's time to peel and clip them apart.

After about 4 or 5 days the under nail starts to toughen up and become a regular nail.
I've never asked my doctor because it never seems to be bothering me when I have an appointment and then I just never think about it.

The last time they came apart was about 3 years ago. Weird huh? Usually it's just thicker than the rest of my nails and I clip them like any other nails.

I did mention to my husband that I'm kinda worried about when I get too old to tend to them on my own...yikes!

October 4, 2010 - 5:35pm
Pat Elliott

To the last three anons - have any of you seen a doctor for this? I'm just curious as to what advice a doctor would give someone, or if people are pretty much on their own in figuring out what to do. The above description of black nails and blood gushing out is pretty graphic, but I'm so glad that you took the time to share your story and what you actually do as this can help others. Pat

October 4, 2010 - 5:14pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've been having this problem for over a decade. For me the problem is basketball. I don't play during the winter, then summer and fall it's six months of basketball, constantly, on daily basis, and nails on second, third and fourth toe first go black, I use clippers to cut off the top layer and all the blood comes gushing out and so the black nails are gone. What happens then is that two different nails grow on each toe, one close to the skin, and another one on top. Within two to three weeks the top one is ready to go. Sometimes it will fall off on its own, but usually it needs a bit of help, mainly to pull it out of the skin a bit. Doesn't hurt, though it can look scary. When that nails is out of the picture, you will see there is a new nail underneath it. That's the healhy, long-term nail. The problem with that nail can sometimes be that it starts to ingrow, so pay attention to it.

October 4, 2010 - 6:39am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have this too. On both of the toes next to my big toe (one on each foot) It breaks off eventually (the top layer) and a few years later...it happens again. No pain, but it's ugly for a few weeks after the top layer comes off.

October 2, 2010 - 7:48pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've looked so hard for this topic, and so happy to hear from others in a similar situation, and as such, I hope being thotough will also help anyone in future....

So, I currently have this 2 toe thing, also on my 2nd toe (the one next to the big one), and after reading some comments, it seems my new running ways seem to be also a likely cause.

I first made the discovery as I began to feel a build up of pressure, the nail was already a bit darkened and cracked, something I presume would just grow out and wasn't a concern. But while clipping I noticed that under the nail (which already would grow slightly upwards since forever, was just solid nail. And like someone else commented, I just scrapped and hacked my way through it all.
And discovered what I suspected to be a second nail, based on how solid it was. I was surprised at how far back i could cut, as it no longer hurt like it usually does if you trim to far.

Then decided to let it be for a few weeks. However both nails continue to grow. I will have to see a doctor, but am hoping that the top one just drops off.. as I kind of like the second one which has a nicer shape :) plus it seems the choice would otherwise be between a v.weird looking nail, or a build up of pressure that needs regular adressing with severe clipping.

August 24, 2010 - 4:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have the same thing! I'm glad its not from a fungus. Mine was from a trauma from bad sneakers...

August 23, 2010 - 4:45pm
Pat Elliott (reply to Anonymous)

Anon - How did bad sneakers cause this? Letting us know could help others.

August 23, 2010 - 5:05pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have a smiliar problem for about 5 months on my second toe I had a thick layer of nail & a ridge going acrosss it. today I was clipping my toe nails & I decided to investigate so I began too cut & as I cut there was about 2 layers of nail then at the end there was a thinner layer of nail & I began clipping away the ridge I got so distracted then I last saw myself with no toe nail & now I have no idea what to do? I've had no truama to my toenail what so ever. im not sure what I should do ? my brother says it will grow back but in my skin painfully :(

August 8, 2010 - 1:32am
Pat Elliott (reply to Anonymous)

Anon, Yes, it should grow back in but you'll want to keep an eye on it to make sure you don't get an ingrown toe nail. If it becomes painful you should see a doctor as that could indicate an infection. An antibiotic can be used for treatment in early stages. In late stages surgery could become necessary. Good luck to you. Pat

August 9, 2010 - 5:18pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have had this since as long as I can remember. Both pinky toes are identical. I never doubted it was genetic.

Another person says it runs in his/her family:

(Link removed by EmpowHER moderator.)

July 17, 2010 - 11:42pm
Pat Elliott

Hi Anon - What an interesting story. From what you've said I'm guessing you have no pain, just a unique toenail and story to share with others. Thanks so much for coming to the site! Pat

June 15, 2010 - 6:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I went to a podiatrist about a year ago with this issue; actually, I went thinking I had some form of a fungus in the nail bed of my right great toe. The nail was discolored and was "lifting" from the nail bed. There was also a noticeable ridge going across the nail. The podiatrist debrided/removed the majority of the nail after making his diagnosis. He stated there was no fungus. The ridge is still there, but may now be closer to the end of the nail than before, I'm not sure. Yesterday while clipping my nails I was able to discern two separate layers of nail, something not as noticeable to me in the past. Perhaps this is due to the double nail growing out and therefore not being held together as tightly as in the past? Perhaps in a few months the double nail phenomenon will be over. I have no recollection of any toe "trauma".

June 15, 2010 - 5:08am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

argh! i hate em

May 1, 2010 - 12:17am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've had four so far. I think it's from playing basketball. Instant and frequent stops which cause my toes to jam to the front of my shoe and slightly breaks off the nail like alysiak said. I don't think it's too serious or anything. To further prove my point of it being from playing sports is because it's always on my toe next to my big toe which sticks out just a tad bit further than my big toe.

December 20, 2009 - 8:22pm
Alison Beaver (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing; it is nice to hear that this can be common and most likely caused by a "trauma" to the toe (and, "trauma" does not have to be anything severe; but playing sports can definitely cause some trauma to body parts!).

Can you tell us more about your condition, when it happens after playing basketball? Have you ever had your toes checked out by a doctor, and if so, what was the diagnosis and recommended treatment? Any prevention tips?

December 20, 2009 - 9:08pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

it is ok, it will just grow off. ITS VERY SEXY.

September 29, 2009 - 11:43am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I have had mine for going on two years now... so it might not grow off anytime soon

November 3, 2009 - 1:30pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I have the same thing. This is the second time that my toenails on my big toes (on both feet) are regrowing underneath the original nail, but this time they have completely stopped growing. I just visited my regular doctor and he said that antibiotics might work. He said that a podiatrist might recommend just taking off the first nail so the underlying one can grow out. Do you also have it regrowing on both big toes or am I the only one?

April 5, 2012 - 11:10pm
mh3rdwheel (reply to Anonymous)

My toenail situation is a little different. I am 43 years old, since I was little my two pinkie toes each have two toenails growing side by side. They are very gross looking, they grow out and when they come in they hurt,. they will dig holes in my canvas shoes. I have now insurance or money to see a doctor.

January 24, 2011 - 12:26pm
alysiak

One reason for one toenail growing on top of another is, as Alison suggested, a trauma to the toenail.

For example, my first toes are longer than the big toes. As a distance runner, even in properly fitted shoes, those two longer toes hit the inside of the toe box when I'm running downhill. The effect is known as "black toenails," the blackening caused by bloody blisters under the nails. The blisters will eventually heal, but the nail bed has been traumatized and the damaged nail will eventually drop off as the new nail grows underneath it.

Your podiatrist can help you determine the cause of your double growth. If it's caused by some repeated trauma to the toes, you may have to have your shoes fitted better.

Just one possibility.

May 13, 2009 - 4:35pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I went to a chiropodist who told me that my toenail discoloration was because the nail had become detached. When she clipped it shorter, she noticed a similar thing, that I actually had one toenail growing on top of the other. I still don't see it myself, but that's what she said. Her advice was just to leave it and see what happens, given that any further action she would take had some chance of losing the nail entirely (maybe not a bad thing, in my opinion). I haven't yet sought an opinion from a podiatrist, but that will be my next step. I'm in Ontario Canada, so your definition of chiropodist versus podiatrist my differ.

May 12, 2009 - 9:07pm
Alison Beaver

I would suggest seeing a podiatrist (foot doctor), as you may not have any trouble with your double toenail now, but it would be wise to receive information about your specific condition and the underlying cause, in order to prevent any infections from developing. I assume it may be difficult to keep clean and to cut/trim your toenails?

Did you have a trauma or injury to your toenail?

You can locate a podiatrist by state at the link below:
http://www.epodiatry.com/usa_clinics.htm

December 21, 2008 - 7:20pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)

On my pinky toe the nail covers 4/5 then a split and a sliver of nail that doesn't seem to grow. No pain or discomfort what so ever,any ideas?

September 26, 2012 - 8:03pm
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.

Improved

1549 Health

Changed

573 Lives

Saved

430 Lives
1 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

When going out in the sun, what SPF do you put on?:
View Results