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Do you have toenails that split, specifically on the pinky toenail? Those are called petaloid toenails and are something you can easily fix if it bothers you. In this post, we’ll cover why some people have this unique feature and the steps you can take to get rid of it.

What Is An Accessory Nail Of The Fifth Toe?

According to Wikipedia:

The accessory nail of the fifth toe, or double toenail is a physical trait of the small toe, where a minuscule “sixth toenail” is present in the outer corner of the nail situated on the smallest toe.

It looks something like this:

picture of a split toenail, picture of a double toenail, accessory toenail

In a way, it can also look like an overlapping toenail!

Why Do I Have An Extra Toenail On My Pinky Toe?

I have had an accessory toenail on the corner of each of my pinky toes for as long as I can remember! It never interfered with my quality of life, but it was annoying when they caught on bedsheets or my socks. At times, it would be like they weren’t there. Then they would become loose and snag, which sometimes could be painful.

I started getting self-conscious of having pinky toenails that split as a teenager. The rough, accessory toenails on the outer edge of my pinkies had a strange shape.

After doing more research, I learned more about why double toenails occur. It boils down to being something that you are born with!

Genetics Cause Double Toenails

It is known that accessory toenails are an inherited, genetic trait.

Many people believe that they have toenails that split when they actually have genetic double toenails. This is what I originally thought too. Despite the toenail looking split, these toenails are not caused by an accident or injury. If this was the case, then the toenail would have grown back as one complete nail over time.

With accessory toenails, they will always grow back looking separated.

Something mind-blowing: double toenails are most likely caused by a recessive feature called hexadactyly. This means “a sixth finger or toe”. (Wikipedia)

It’s also worth noting that this article mentions that accessory toenails appear to be hereditary and prevails in the female sex.

How Common Is An Accessory Toenail?

If you are wondering how common double toenails are, check out this article as well: it mentions, “A rudimentary accessory or double nail of the little toe is not rare, although only described three times before.”

So you are not alone if you have this condition! It just hasn’t been spoken much of before, and very few people actually need to go to the doctor for treatment. This may lead to many thinking they have something wrong with their toes!

This explains why I felt like I was the only person to have this, but know now it is pretty common and not a big deal.

If it still bothers you though, there are ways to fix this! Read on to learn more.

How To Fix Double Toenail On Pinky Toe

If the appearance of double toenails is troubling to you, it is easy to fix them. Whether they are starting to become loose and snag, or are looking a little rough, there are options!

Accessory Nail of The Fifth Toe Treatment

Here is exactly how I fix split toenails on the pinkies:

  • First, I use nail clippers to trim both the regular nail and the accessory toenail. This keeps it looking polished and neat.
  • Second, I use a nail file to smooth down the double toenail as much as possible. Sometimes it tends to have a rough appearance and is uneven to the regular toenail.
  • Lastly, I apply a coat of nail polish to the whole nail to make it look like a uniform nail.

Then, voila! No one can tell that I actually have 6 toenails on each foot! LOL (Not that anyone could notice anyway – unless I told them!)

Also, if you are noticing ridges on your fingernails, check out this guide on how to get rid of those as well. Here’s to beautiful and healthy nails!

Non-Polish Wearers

Or, if you don’t wear nail polish, you can also add a nice cuticle oil to the toes instead.

Sometimes the skin around the accessory toenail can look dry. When the skin is moisturized, the nails will altogether have a better appearance, and even have a bit of sheen to them.

Here are some great cuticle oils to try:

This is a great option for a double nail of the fifth toe treatment.

Petaloid Toenail Removal

It is very important to note that when you tend to your double toenails, be sure not to rip or pull the small nail out! In doing so, you put that wound at risk of becoming infected. This makes sense, as the feet are great breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi. Not to mention, your nail will grow right back as it was. Plus – it’s super painful!

What do you do if you notice your nails snagging a lot, or if you can’t stand your accessory toenails anymore? There are actually professional options to get rid of double toenails completely.

Matricectomy of Double Toenails

This is the professional (and permanent) remedy for accessory nails.

Matricectomy is the word for toenail surgery, that a foot surgeon will perform for you.

Surgical or chemical matricectomy, or complete removal or destruction of the nail matrix, has been used for successful removal of the accessory toenail.

When you get this procedure done, it will basically destroy the nail and its ability to regrow.

Legends Of Split Toenails

I used to think that this only happened to people of Asian ancestry, as I have.

This might be due to the fact that there is a famous Chinese legend about it.

Back then, there were people in China who were of the descent of either the Yellow Emperor or the Qiang people. The Qiang people were attacked and a pregnant Qiang woman was stabbed in the abdomen. When she gave birth it is said that the child was born with a small scar on the pinky toe. This is how descendants have a double toenail.

Of course, now we know that it can occur in people of all ethnicities and races.

Best, Mia

This content is for informational purposes only, and what has worked for me personally based on my own opinions. I am not a professional/medical doctor, and you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist on what will work best for you. The information presented here is not legitimate, official advice from a professional. If you choose to rely on any information from this blog, you do so at your own risk. Please refer to the “Blog Disclaimer” tab in the menu bar to read more information and the official disclaimer statement.

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