Dermatologist or Podiatrist

Updated on March 27, 2012
K.J. asks from Glendale, CA
14 answers

My 13 year old son developed this little blue mark under his toenail about 2-3 months ago. At first we thought maybe it was a bruise from soccer so we decided to watch it. Since it's not on his kicking foot, we're now doubting the whole 'bruise' thing and the spot hasn't changed at all. It hasn't changed color, size, shape or grown out. The nail itself isn't indented but you can see the marking under the nail looks indented into the toe. Yesterday I took him to see his pediatrician and she admitted she'd never seen anything like it, didn't know what it was and didn't know if I should take him to see a podiatrist or a dermatologist as a next step. Some people think that he should see a podiatrist because it's on his foot but I'm kind of thinking dermatologist because if the same spot were under his fingernail, we wouldn't take him to a 'hand specialist'. We have a PPO so I can make an appointment with any in network doctor but I obviously don't want to waste money seeing doctors that can't help.

So now I'm asking you ladies for your opinion...dermatologist or podiatrist?

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So What Happened?

So we chose to see a podiatrist. The doctor felt the mark was most likely a bruise and suggested we watch it for 2 months. If it grows out and can be cut off, it was a bruise and no other action is necessary. If it does not, we will need to biopsy. Luckily, we have noticed some growth. Thank you to all for your advice.

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answers from Appleton on

Podiatrist. My late brother was a podiatrist.

I think it may be a bruise. Toenails grow much slower than fingernails, it may seem to be not growing or healing but it takes a lot longer with a toenail.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would choose the podiatrist. Toenails seem to develop unique problems that I'm not sure a dermatologist would be capable of handling.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Has the toe been injured in the recent past?
It could be a tiny blood blister under the nail.
When I dropped a lock on my toe once I had a huge blood blister under the nail which was very painful.
I heated up a pin (sterilized it first) and made small hold through the nail so it could drain.
Ultimately the nail fell off and took a few months to regrow - none of that was painful at all.
I don't know about a dermatologist for a toe nail problem - they usually do skin.
Podiatrists do deal a lot with toe nails because when they are ingrown they can really affect the feet a lot.
They know a lot about foot/ toe nail injuries and would know about fungal infections and circulation problems as well.
I'd see the podiatrist.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I would go w/ the podiatrist.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Is it not the job of the general doctor (pediatrician) to refer you or at least recommend a doctor? I would lean to a dermatologist and point out other things while I'm there (sunburn, oily skin), but that is a hard one. Good question.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

I would go to a podiatrist over a dermatologist. Problems of the foot, nail, nail bed, etc are his specialty. I always go to the specialist over the more general practitioners. I understand what you think about taking him to a dermatologist vs a hand specialist if it were on his hand, but it's not. It's on his toe. Feet and toes have unique issues, go with an expert in them! Good luck to your little one, I'm glad it's not giving him trouble.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'd say dermatologist, because it doesn't seem to be a problem with the nail itself but the skin underneath it. It sounds like an injury to the toe caused a bruise under the nail. It can take forever for those to grow out. Just because it's not his kicking foot doesn't mean someone didn't step on it with a cleat, or maybe his shoe is rubbing on it wrong. Have it looked at just to be sure, but it sounds like a bruise to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'd go to a podiatrist. If it's an injury that damaged the nail/nail bed or a fungal infection, a podiatrist can determine that.
I'm kind of surprised that your ped didn't give you a suggestion of your next move.



answers from Phoenix on

podiatrist.....I have never really gotten a concrete answer from a dermatologist. It's always 'it might be' or 'lets try this'.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hands down I would go to the dermatologist. If the same lesion were on his thumb, you'd have to go to the dermatologist anyway. Could be a fungal infection, and dermatologists can do scrapings and stuff in the office to determine that. At any rate, dermatologists deal not only with skin, but nails as well.


answers from Washington DC on

is his toe nail thickening? It could be a fungal problem. I would go to a dermatologist to rule out fungal infections and if they say no, I would find a good podiatrist.

I'm surprised the pediatrician didn't take a blood test to see if they can detect an infection in his body. Or order Xrays to see if the toe was stubbed and bruised...if it doesn't hurt...then hhhhmmmm...dermatologist.




answers from Portland on

Call the dermatologist and the podiatrist and ask if they are the one to go to. They know what they treat.

Did your pediatrician say it wasn't a bruise? I've had similar things and they've always been a bruise. Sounds like the bruise is on the skin instead of on the nail.



answers from Santa Barbara on

I would go to a dermatologist over a podiatrist but my dermatologist is a genius! I would probably never find myself at a podiatrist though, when I broke my foot I saw an orthopedist and a podiatrist has never been on my radar.



answers from Los Angeles on

call the insurance nurse advice line and ask them to see what hey recommend. i use mine all the time.

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