Toenail Fungus Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention Tips

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Toenail Fungus Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention Tips
Toenail infections are caused by yeast, mold, or dermatophyte fungi. A yeast infection is white, a mold infection is brown, and a dermatophyte infection is yellow.

Millions of people are affected by Onychomycosis toenail fungus, or toenail fungus. Learn about the different types of toenail fungus and the best toenail fungus treatment options.

What is Toenail Fungus?

Nail fungus, a common condition, begins under your fingernail tip or toenail. Nail fungus can cause nail discoloration, thickening, and even crumbling at the edges as the fungal infection progresses. This can affect multiple nails.

You may not need treatment if your condition is not severe. Self-care and medication may be helpful if your nail fungus has made your nails thicker. Nail fungus can return even after successful treatment.

Nail fungus is also called onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis). It’s also known as athlete’s foot (tineapedis) when fungus infects your skin and between your toes.

What Causes Are There For Toenail Fungus

Fungal nail infections are caused by a fungi overgrowth under or on the nails. Fungi thrive best in moist, warm environments. This can lead to them naturally becoming overpopulated. Nail infections can be caused by the same fungi as jock itch and athlete’s feet.

Nail infections can be caused by fungi already present in your body. You may have also contracted a fungal infection if you come into contact with someone who has it. Fungal infections of the toenails are more common than those of the fingernails. This is likely due to the fact that your toes are often kept in shoes where they can be exposed to warm and moist environments.

Ask the staff how they disinfect their tools, and how often. If tools, such as nail clippers and emery boards, are not cleaned up, they can spread fungal infections.

How Is Toenail Fungus Diagnosed?

A dermatologist will examine your nails and the skin around them to determine if you have nail fungus. Because the fungus can spread, it is important to inspect the skin. A skin infection such as athlete’s feet may already be present.

You will need to treat the entire area infected to get rid of the infection.

Your dermatologist might also request samples to confirm your diagnosis. A dermatologist may collect a little bit of the nail debris, trim off some of your nails, or remove a small amount of skin. These samples can be taken to a laboratory and examined under a microscope in order to determine the cause of the problem.

Early Toenail Fungus Symptoms

It can be difficult to spot early signs of nail fungus. The first signs of toenail fungal disease are usually a yellow or white spot on the nail. This often occurs on the sides or edges of the nails. There are many other issues that could affect nails. Don’t assume that your problem is caused by a fungal infection.

Toenail infection can often be ignored because they are so mild. It can often take a while for one to notice any noticeable changes in the appearance of the nails.

Signs And Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus Later

The nail will begin to turn yellow as the fungal infection progresses. This may be visible along the edges or cover most of the nail. There are other nail problems that can develop at this point. The symptoms include thickening and hardening the nails, which can lead to brittle nails. While some people might not feel any more severe symptoms, it is easy to ignore and overlook. If left untreated, the infection may become worse.

Nail bed separation can cause discoloration. Sublingual infections are those that occur under the nails. The infection can worsen as the symptoms and coloration become more severe. It is possible to clear the problem by cleaning and drying your toenails and using over-the-counter remedies.

Onycholysis is the medical term for nail bed separation. This is caused by nail fungus. The fungus causes tissue around the nail plate and nail bed to become more hardened. This isn’t the only reason. This can be caused by allergies, nail damage, skin irritations, and shoes that are too tight. This does not mean that nail fungus is the only cause.

Toenail Fungus Long-Term Signs

As the fungal infection gets worse, the color of the toenails will become more discolored. In extreme cases, the fungal infection may cause the nail to become discolored and break apart.

There may be swelling around the area of infection, as well as a change in nail appearance. An infection may also manifest as pain around the toenail region. Nail fungus can cause discomfort. Even if you don’t have nail fungal problems, you should treat them as nail fungus can spread from one toe to another.

The cuticle protects the nail from infection and bacteria by covering it. This area can be damaged and infected. In some cases, a cuticle infection may lead to nail fungus.

There Are Other Ways To Identify Toenail Fungus

You may suspect you have toenail fungal infection, but you are not sure. Your nail fungus problem could be caused by athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot fungus can spread from the skin to your toes, as it tends to be close to the nails. If you have athlete’s feet and suspect that you may have toenail fungal infection, you have a greater chance of developing it. Ringworm, another skin infection that can cause toenail fungal disease, is also possible.

What Causes Toenail Coloration?

A common problem is toenail discoloration. This condition can be caused by minor or severe injuries to the toes.

Semi-transparent toenails are most common, but can occasionally become discolored. This could happen when they turn purple, black or green depending on the reason.


Psoriasis refers to a condition that causes skin cells to grow faster than they are broken down. This results in patchesy skin buildup.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people suffering from psoriasis can develop nail psoriasis (nail fungus) at some time in their lives. This causes the nails to become:

  • Change the color
  • Get thicker
  • Lift the nail bed
  • Crumble
  • develop dents


Injuries can cause toenail discoloration. The reddened area may turn purple and then become brown or black. This may be noticed by people who stub their toes or wear tight shoes while running.


Diabetes patients are more susceptible to fungal infections that the general population. Toenail discoloration may be a sign of diabetes or a sign of a more serious condition.

Diabetes is often accompanied by poor circulation and decreased sensation in the feet. People may injure their feet by not being aware of it, allowing nail fungi to flourish.


Melanoma, a severe form skin cancer, can be seen as a dark streak running down the toenails.

Yellow nail syndrome

Yellow nail syndrome, a rare condition, can lead to yellow toenails and breathing problems. It can also cause swelling in the legs.

Nail polish

Toenail discoloration can also be caused by nail polish if it penetrates into the keratin layers of the nail. Although the discolored nail will eventually grow out, it may take some time.

Other causes

Nail color can be affected by other diseases, such as diabetes and lung disease.

Four Types of Toenail Fungus with Pictures

There are four types of toenail fungal disease. Each has its own symptoms and treatment options. To determine the type of fungus, your doctor or dermatologist might take a small amount of the nail debris and trim it.

Distal Subungual Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis toenail fungus is the most common type of toenail fungal disease. While it may not be encouraging, this type of toenail fungus treatment is recommended.

We have the best information on how to treat distal sublingual mycosis, which is the most common type. This type of fungus infiltrates the nail bed beneath the nail.

Signs And Symptoms

  • The big toenail is more common than the other toenails
  • Thickening nails can be yellowish-brown to yellowish brown in color, or appear as yellow streaks at the center of the nail.
  • You may notice that your nail is chipped, jagged or broken from the nail bed
  • The toenail area can cause mild inflammation and pain.

White Onychomycosis Superficial

White superficial (mild toenail fungus) onychomycosis toenail fungus, which is more common than distal supraungual onychomycosis, presents differently.

It is located on the top layer of the nail’s hard part, and not under it, making it easier to treat. White superficial onychomycosis toenail fungus is not a toenail infection that can affect the fingernails or toenails.

Signs And Symptoms

  • On the nail plate’s surface, small, speckled, white “islands” appear randomly.
  • Nail becomes hard, soft and easily crumbles.

Candida Toenail Infection

Candida is a yeast found in the environment. Sometimes it lives on our skin as part of our normal skin flora. The yeast attacks the soft tissue surrounding the toenail and then penetrates the skin.

Without taking a sample of Candida toenail infection fungus and having it tested, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. It is more common in the fingers than in the toenails, especially when hands are frequently in water.

Signs And Symptoms

  • The skin around the toenail area is reddish
  • Nail discoloration of yellow, brown or white
  • Nails can become brittle or split and cause partial or complete destruction.

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis toenail fungus infection starts when the fungus invades the proximal skin, which is the area where the nail meets the toe. It then spreads to the rest of the nail. It spreads to the new nail and penetrates it.

It has been shown that proximal toenail infections can occur in people who are otherwise healthy, although it is rare.

Signs And Symptoms

  • It begins as a white, diffuse patch at the center of your cuticle
  • White spots develop as the toenail grows.
  • The toenail splits from the nail bed, causing the toenail to fall off.

When Should You See A Doctor?

Toenail fungus infection may not be diagnosed if you have a small yellowish or white spot on your toes. If your toenail becomes distorted or painful, you may have mild toenail fungus.

If you have any of these symptoms toenail fungus, call your doctor immediately.

  • Split nails can cause powdery, thick, brittle or powdery nails.
  • Changes in nailbed shape
  • Emission of a mild or strong odor from the toenail
  • Any systemic symptoms, such as fever, chills or night sweats, should be reported immediately.

Is Toenail Fungus Contagious?

Contagious toenail fungus is a condition that can spread between your toenails or infect your fingernails. The fungal infection can also be transmitted to others by sharing towels, socks and other items. These cases are rare because the fungi and not the infection are transmitted.

Is Toenail Fungus Painful?

Mild toenail fungus may not cause pain, but if ignored toenail pain can become unbearable. The pain can become so severe that it makes walking in your shoes difficult. People often delay seeking medical attention, making it difficult to walk again.

Toenail pain can be avoided if you treat it early. Fast healing and decreased pain can be achieved by prompt treatment.

Should I Treat Toenail Fungus?

We don’t recommend letting toenail fungal infection go untreated if you think you can live with it. This is a serious problem that can be difficult to treat and can lead to permanent toenail removal. You will have to live with the pain and feel self-conscious about the unsightliness of your nails.

You should not let nail fungus infections go untreated for too long. An infected nail may become discolored and more detached from the nail bed. Side effects such as itching and pain can be unpleasant. If they are severe enough, you may have difficulty walking or wearing shoes.

If your immune system is compromised, you need to be extra vigilant when treating toenail fungal infections. It is important to not ignore the fungus if you have diabetes. Even a mild infection can lead to more serious conditions, such as cellulitis or severe bacterial skin infections.

Untreated fungus can also spread to your skin and neighboring toenails, leading to athlete’s feet. The worst outcome for untreated nail fungal is having to have your nail removed surgically.

Topical Treatments To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

You may require a topical treatment if you suspect you have toenail fungus.

Many over-the-counter (OTC), topical antifungals are available at drugstore shelves. Most of them promise more than they deliver. These OTC antifungals are not recommended for people with thick nails or advanced fungal infections (such as discoloration and texture change).

OTC treatment types of toenail fungus products such as Lamisil (terbinafine), cream, may be helpful for mild onychomycosis toenail fungus that affects the nails. Regular debridement is recommended and continued use for four to six months. A 0.46-ounce tub of generic Lamisil cream costs around $12.

Oral Medications To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

Because they are more effective than topical medications, these drugs are often the first option. Itraconazole and terbinafine are two options. These drugs allow a new nail to grow without infection and slowly replace the infected one.

This drug is usually taken for 6-12 weeks. The end result of treatment will not be visible until the nail grows back fully. Sometimes it can take up to four months to get rid of an infection. Adults over 65 have lower success rates with these drugs.

Side effects of oral treatment types of toenail fungus can include skin rash and liver damage. These treatment types of toenail fungus drugs can cause side effects that may require periodic blood tests. They may not be recommended for patients with congestive heart disease, liver disease, or people taking certain medications.

Can I Treat My Toenail Fungus At Home?

Treatment types of toenail fungus can be found in many home remedies. Vicks VapoRub, coconut oil and tea tree oil are some of these home remedies to help you get rid of toenail fungus. These products have antifungal properties, an oily texture that facilitates absorption, and a smooth taste.

Although clinical evidence is still sparse, a small study on 100% Melaleuca alternifolia oil (tea tree oil) showed that it was just as effective in treating nail fungal infections as 1% Clotrimazole antifungal cream. Overall, 50 percent of tea-tree oil users reported improvements, though recurrence rates were high.

Caprylic acid as well as capric acid are powerful antimicrobial agents found in coconut oil that can be used as one of the treatment types of toenail fungus. Although there is not much clinical evidence supporting these claims, research shows that capric acid can be used to suppress Candida albicans (a yeast infection) in a test tube. It is not clear if the 9% of coconut oil that contains capric acid can have the same effect on a particularly strong fungus such as Trichophyton Rubrum.

A small study with Vicks VapoRub, however, showed promising results. Ten of the 18 participants experienced partial relief from their symptoms toenail fungus after 48 weeks. Five of them were able to complete the clearance. These results were confirmed in a 2016 study in the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. The results were often short-lived with most people experiencing recurrence within one year.

Remember that home remedies are not subject to rigorous testing. Further trials will be required before they can be recommended.

What are the Complications of Toenail Fungus

A yellowed nail caused by toenail fungal infection can be a sign of serious health problems. Onychomycosis toenail fungus is rarely painful so many people delay seeking treatment. Peter Joseph, DPM, a Pittsburgh podiatrist, said that most people don’t bother to seek treatment. Although many people may not notice the infection and consider it a cosmetic issue, the health effects of ignoring toenail fungus can be severe. Possible complications of a fungal infection in the toenails:

Foot pain

Dr. Joseph says that a nail infected by fungus can become thickened and misshapen over time, which can cause pain. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, it can make walking difficult if you wear shoes.

Spread of the fungus

Untreated toenail fungal infection can spread to other areas of the foot. Itchy, red and cracked skin can result from athlete’s feet. It can easily spread if you are wearing shoes or socks and one of your toenails has become infected. The fungus thrives when it is warm, humid, and dark. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the fungus can spread to the genitals where it can cause jock itch. This condition can be fatal and can affect men and women equally.

Widespread Infection

Toenail fungal infections can be a problem for those with diabetes or other chronic conditions that affect the immune system. Toenail fungal infection can spread to the skin, causing it to crack. Cellulitis can occur when the skin becomes red and tender. This condition is known as swollen, red, or tender cellulitis. Cellulitis can be fatal in severe cases. It can start with a simple fungal infectionJoseph states.

Nail loss

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, infected toenails can become detached from the nail bed due to fungus. This condition is called onycholysis. The nail must be removed if it becomes detached from the nail bed. If the fungus persists, even if it doesn’t get worse, it will still need to be treated. An avulsion procedure (permanent toenail removal) is used to remove the whole nail. The toenail removal by a procedure called a matrectomy, can be performed. This removes the growing center at its base, whether chemically or surgically, and after surgical toenail removal it will not grow back.

Tips For Preventing Toenail Fungus

It can be difficult to treat toenail fungus. It can be very difficult to treat.

It is best to learn how to prevent getting a new infection. It is easy to get rid of fungus from your toenails. Here are some tips.

Make sure your feet are dry and clean. Every day, wash them with soap and water. After washing them, dry them thoroughly. Get in-between your toes, too. A fungus is less likely to develop if your feet and nails are clean and dry.

Public places should not be barefoot. Fungus thrives in moist, warm places. Fungus can also easily spread from one person to another. It is important to use flip flops or shower shoes around locker rooms, public pools, and showers.

You should change your socks and shoes frequently. Every day, wear clean socks. You can also give your shoes a break and change out of your shoes often. Change your shoes and socks as soon as possible if your feet become sweaty from walking or working out.

Make sure you have the right shoes. Fungus thrives in tight shoes and socks. Your shoes should not be too tight and allow your feet to breathe. For shoes, choose leather. You should look for socks made from synthetic fibers that pull moisture away from your feet more effectively than wool or cotton. This is called wicking.

Trim your toenails. Cut them in a straight line. You should not cut them so that they dig into your toes. Do not pick at the skin or nails next to them.

Use foot powder. After you have finished showering, sprinkle some on your feet and dry them. Some people like cornstarch. However, medicated powder is a better option. It can protect you from fungus, such as athlete’s feet.

Keep your tools clean. After each use, clean and sterilize all nail files and clippers. It should work. Do not share them with others.

If you are able, skip the nail polish. Fake nails or nail polish can trap moisture and make it easier for fungus growth. If you can live with no polish, it’s easier to avoid toenail fungal infection.

Clean nail salons are a good choice. Do you want a pedicure done? You should look for a salon licensed by your state that is clean and well-kept. After each client, make sure that they sterilize all tools. You can also bring your own sterilized tools.

Use an anti-fungal lotion. This may prevent you from getting toenail fungus again if you have had it before. Use an over-the counter or prescription product to treat toenail fungus and feet twice weekly.

Get rid of old slippers and shoes.They can be home to fungus. Before you put on your shoes, spray an anti-fungal product in them. Never share socks or shoes with anyone else.

Regularly check your feet and toes.You should see your doctor if you notice a change in the color of your nails or in their texture. You have a chance to catch fungus early. Talk to your pharmacist if you suspect you may have an infection or fungus. If you don’t get it treated, it can lead to mild toenail fungus.

Living with a Toenail Fungus infection

Although it may not seem like a major health problem compared to other conditions, toenail fungus can have a significant impact on daily activities and function.

The treatment process can belong. When the results take a while to come back, it can be difficult to keep up with treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed, embarrassed, or tired of managing pain and keeping up with your treatment.


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