Why Is My Pinky Toenail So Small? (Fungal Infection, Tight Shoes, Or Injury?)

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The most prominent issue behind having a small pinky toenail is genetics. If either of your parents has a small nail bed could result in you having the same. If you don’t have small nail beds, your pinky toenail could be small due to wearing tight shoes, getting a toe injury, cutting nails too short, or having a fungal infection. Identifying the reason behind it can help you find a better and quick solution. If you cannot maintain your nails, you can depend on a professional who can do that for you. A nail salon can help you keep a proper length and help them regrow to the original size of your nail bed. 

When it comes to nail grooming, we mostly take care of the nails on our hands by maintaining their length and keeping them clean but often fail to do so for our toenails.

As a result, our toenails get more ignored. But the toenail that suffers the most is our little friend called the pinky toe, which keeps bumping on the side table or beds a little too frequently.

While irregular grooming could be one reason, it’s not the only one. Toenails come in all shapes and sizes, but if it’s just your pinky toe, there could be other reasons.

It could be frustrating when your pinky toenail isn’t growing, unlike others, even when you’re trying your best. Let’s look at why this could be happening and if there’s anything you can do to change that.

5 reasons your pinky toenail is short

Most people complain that their pinky toenails are shorter than the other ones, and they can’t seem to grow them to their desired length. 

Those who like to get their nails done professionally at a salon often complain about having a short pinky toenail and how they can’t remedy this situation.

While having a shorter pinky toenail isn’t something to be too worried about, the main reason lies in your genetics. 

When it comes to nails, their average length and shape are determined by the nail beds, which are controlled by genetics.

If either of your parents has short nail beds, it could be why you have shorter nail beds and nail growth too.

Then not only your pinky toe, but if you pay attention to your other nail beds, they’re smaller and shorter too. Although if either of your grandparents had longer nail beds, they could influence your nail beds, too, or your sibling’s. 

Though genetics play an important role, sometimes people have unusually smaller pinky toenails compared to other nails, which are pretty long.

Genetics isn’t the only issue here, so let’s look at the different factors possible:

1. Tight shoes

A woman who's wearing tight shoes to work is noticing her pinky toes cramping up and hurting

If you’re wearing a size smaller than your current one, that could be just the case for your small toenail.

Not wearing the correct shoe size can cramp our toes in the tiny space available, making it most difficult for the smaller toe. 

Pinky toe suffers the most due to pressure from other toes, causing the toenail to grow short or even causing the issue of an ingrown toenail, causing sharp pain. 

2. Nail injury

A person just bumped their right pinky toe into the dining chair leg

This is pretty common for the pinky toe to experience. Often we hit our pinky toe on the bedside or a table end and suffer from a horrible pain for those 5-10 seconds rendering us unable to do anything. 

But when an injury gets severe, it can affect our nail bed to the point where it can get damaged and simply stop growing.

When the nail separates from the nail bed, you must either wait for the deformed toenail to fall out and let a new nail grow or get it removed by a doctor.

Sometimes, the loose nail doesn’t fall out so quickly, and the dead nail may stay there, unable to grow and grow yellow or thicker in size, giving an illusion of a fungal infection.

If you get a nail injury, make sure you get the dead nail removed from a professional. 

3. Cutting them too short

A woman is cutting her toe nails

While maintaining a short length is necessary to avoid getting dirt accumulated under your toenails, overcutting them can also lead to bed nail injury.

Your nails already have a line where the skin stops growing to let you know where you need to cut them, but if you keep on going, you can get a sore toe and reduce your nail bed over time.

It can reduce your overall nail bed growth and keep it short even if you had a decent nail bed growth.

5. Nail fungal infection

A fungal infection in the toe or fingernails is known as onychomycosis. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, where the fungi can grow and overpopulate, leading to an infection. 

The worst part is that fungal infection affects toenails more than fingernails because toenails tend to be in confined spaces such as shoes and socks, where this particular environment for fungi to grow exists. 

Some risk factors could increase the chances of toenail fungus. Once affected, your nails may look distorted, lift off the nail bed, smell, or appear brittle or thickened. 

Particular fungal infections have various symptoms, and treating their diagnosis is essential. Usually, a doctor recommends oral medication antifungal in nature or other treatments.

Remember that fungal infection doesn’t quickly go away and has plenty of chances of reoccurring, so the treatment has to go on for a long.

But there’re ways to prevent it from happening again by taking proper care of your nails, making a few lifestyle changes, and preventing from providing your nails with an environment where fungi could grow. 

How to grow your pinky toenail long

A woman is sitting on the sofa, ready with all her toenail care kit to do a pedicure at home

As challenging as it might seem to grow your pinky toenail on your own, the first and foremost thing is to keep it away from infections and in healthy condition to ensure its growth isn’t affected in any way.

Cutting it too short hampers your nail bed and interferes with your natural growth. 

While eating healthy food will help your nails grow long, sometimes we cannot maintain the length of the nails, and they become brittle.

In such cases going to a professional nail salon can help you keep your nails healthy and in good condition enough to make your pinky toenail grow. 

They can clear out the dead skin that develops around the corners of the nail bed and maintain proper length, so your toenail has a chance to grow


Why is my pinky toenail so small and thick?

If your pinky toenail seems thicker than other toenails, there could be a possibility of having a fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis. 

When left untreated, the nail plate with this infection can become thicker, but other symptoms include:

– Color change to yellow, brown, or yellow
– A foul odor
– Toenails lift up from the nail bed
– Split or brittle nails
– Toenails that look scaly or chalky
– Toenails with dirt and other debris under them

As the infection grows, the nail plate grows thicker. An early diagnosis of this infection can help you get the thickened nails treated before it worsens.

Natural remedies like tea tree oil also seem to help people.

Why are my pinky toenails so tiny?

It could be due to a genetic cause like Albright’s syndrome, Down’s syndrome, changes in the parathyroid hormone level, or macrodactyly.

Usually, the pinky toenails are smaller than others, but if they’re abnormally smaller, it could be due to a genetic issue.

Your toe size could also be impacted by wearing the wrong shoe sizes as they can restrict proper growth in childhood. 

Can tight shoes affect toenails?

Wearing tight shoes can affect your toes and toenails by creating chances for ingrown toenails as your feet are cramped up in the small space. 

Tight shoes can push the skin on the sides of the nails up over the nail, forcing the nail to grow in. Other causes of ingrown nails are cutting nails too short, ripping nails, toe injury, or playing a particular sport like soccer. 

Do nail beds grow longer?

Nails beds are something people are genetically born with and remain the same throughout life. Due to cutting them too short over time or due to an injury, you can end up with a shorter nail bed.

With time you can grow it back to its standard size by taking good care of your nails so they can regenerate at a healthy rate.

You can adopt good grooming habits and care to improve your nail bed, which can grow back to its original size. 

To summarise

A smaller pinky toenail can be frustrating when your other nails grow well. While it’s nothing to worry about, the most apparent reason for a shorter toenail could be your genetics.

While some people do have longer nail beds, the issue lies in not being able to maintain their nails properly. Your nail could be injured, infected, or cut too short to let it properly grow in the first place. 

If you want your pinky toenail to grow to its optimum size and be healthy, the best solution would be to visit a professional nail salon.

They can take care of your nails by trimming them to their proper size, removing extra cuticles, and strengthening the nail so they can grow without breaking away. 

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Saumya Malik
I'm an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. I am passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When I'm not writing, you can find me curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.

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