Toenail fungus can turn into a nasty infection if it’s left untreated. There are many symptoms associated with a fungal infection of the nail. But a lot of these warning signs are ignored by people until the fungus has gotten severe. Don’t let this happen.
The earlier you begin treatment, the more quickly that you’ll be able to clear up toenail fungus for good. So, recognizing these signs at an early stage and taking action immediately can prevent it from reaching the more advanced stages.
A toenail fungus can change the way your nails look, feel, and smell. Everyone will experience these symptoms differently, of course. Specific symptoms may be more severe for one person than another. But most of the time, the signs are similar. This makes it easy to self-diagnose.
It’s easy to ignore our feet until there’s a big problem. A nail fungus can be embarrassing and painful if it’s left untreated. As the condition advances, it can lead to the loss of the toenail and cause difficulty walking. Take action as soon as you recognize that there’s an issue with your toenails.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Are the First Signs of Toenail Fungus?
- 2 What Are the Most Severe Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
- 3 How Do You Remove a Toenail Fungus?
What Are the First Signs of Toenail Fungus?
This guide will cover the beginning stages of a toenail fungus. We’ll explain each symptom in depth so that you have the best chance of diagnosing and self-treating the condition right away.
The earliest signs may start off mild, so they can be easy to ignore. Ignoring the earliest symptoms will only make matters worse in the future. It could take months to get rid of a severe toenail fungus, but milder infections can be removed in just weeks the [amazon link=”B00PWYG4X6″ title=”Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System” /].
Treating toenail fungus early on is the best option. To do that, though, you need to recognize the early signs, so let’s take a closer look.
Discoloration of the Nail
One of the earliest signs is discoloration of the toenail. In fact, it’s usually the first thing you’re likely to notice if a fungus has started to grow underneath your nail. This kind of discoloration doesn’t necessarily start out affecting the entire surface of the nail.
It usually appears as white spots or streaks on the nail. It may look like a scratch or injury, or a white powdery substance along the edge of the nail. Some people may even see that their nails have turned cloudy. But, if you didn’t injure your nail in the prior days, take this as a strong warning sign.
In some cases, the streaks or spots may turn darker, and even look black. Again, it’s easy to mistake toenail fungus for injury. You might think it’s nothing more than dried blood underneath the nail.
But an injury to the nail would cause pain. If you press on the nail and don’t feel any pain, it’s more likely a sign of infection than a result of an injury.
As the infection becomes more severe, it can start to affect the entire nail. The toenail may turn yellow, or even black. The darker the nail turns, the worse the infection is likely to be.
A black toenail due to fungus can mean that the nail may even fall off on its own. It can take quite some time for an infection to become this severe. It usually means that the earlier symptoms were ignored.
Pay attention to the tint of your toenails. Keep in mind that initial discoloration doesn’t have to affect the whole nail. If you notice any changes in color or lines or spots, it’s time to start using [amazon link=”B00PWYG4X6″ title=”Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System” /] right away.
Injury Turning to Toenail Fungus
While discoloration from a toenail fungus shouldn’t be confused with an injury, it’s important to know that an injury can lead to a toenail fungus. Trauma to the toes happens all the time. People who are on their feet a lot, especially athletes, are prone to it.
Trauma to the nails can be something sudden like dropping something on your feet. Or, it can be acute and happen over time. This usually happens when you wear overly tight shoes.
The nail bangs up against the inside of the shoe each time you take a step, causing injury over a long period of time.
If you do have an injury to your toenail, you might notice things like a subungual hematoma. This is when blood pools underneath the nail. It can make the nail turn dark, or even black. This doesn’t automatically mean you have a nail fungus.
But, an injury can also create cracks or even cause the toenail to lift from the nail bed. These cracks and lifting can create just enough space for a fungus to grow. So, if you have injured your nails recently, pay attention to how they are changing in appearance.
The color changing to yellow or the nails changing in texture can be an early sign that a fungus is taking hold and it’s not just an injury.
Ridges in the Nails
When you have toenail fungus, your nails can go through quite a few changes when it comes to texture. One of the early changes people tend to experience is ridges in the toenail. These ridges will look almost like raised lines spanning the length of the toenail.
If the surface of the nail becomes rough, it could be a sign of several possibilities. Everything from vitamin deficiencies to age and skin conditions can affect the surface of the nails. But, looking at the ridges combined with other symptoms can help you figure out if you have a fungus or not.
The ridges that form on a toenail can be deep and jagged-looking. If ridges have started to form, it usually means the structure and integrity of the nail are beginning to change.
The weakness of a toenail is what causes the ridges to be visible. If a toenail fungus is compromising the strength of your nail, the ridges will be more pronounced.
But, because there are many reasons for ridges in the nail, it’s important to know the other first signs of toenail fungus. Aside from seeing deep ridges, you should pay attention to the texture of your nails.
Brittle, Crumbling Nails
Another change in texture you may notice is how brittle the nails can become. Again, this is a sign that the toenail has become weaker. Weakened nails due to toenail fungus can start to feel brittle, and they may even start to crumble.
As a toenail begins to crumble, you could be at risk for even more significant problems. First, it becomes easy for pieces of the nail to get snagged on things like socks or shoes.
Because the nail is weak, that can cause part of it to fall off or get torn away. Unfortunately, that can open you up to bacterial infections or could even cause the nail or surrounding skin to bleed.
Brittle nails can also cause the shape of your toenails to change. They may develop jagged edges or start looking deformed as they grow. The more signs you see of the toenails weakening, the stronger the fungal infection is becoming.
Being able to treat the fungus before your nails start to crumble will be much easier than waiting for the nail to fall off or until it gets weaker.
Toenails Become Thicker
If you’ve seen discoloration and your nails have become brittle, you may have a mild case of toenail fungus. But, when your toenails start to become thicker, it’s more important than ever to find a treatment that works well for you.
Nails that have become thicker due to toenail fungus are a sign that the fungus is growing and thriving. Don’t mistake thick nails as a sign that the toenails are strong or healthy. This symptom can, unfortunately, make your toenails painful when you walk or wear certain shoes.
Thickened nails can also be more challenging to manage. To treat the toenail fungus efficiently, you might have to buy specialized thick toenail clippers. The better you keep your nails trimmed, the easier it will be for a treatment to get to work.
But, thick nails can be difficult to trim and file. Getting to this stage of symptoms will make it harder to treat, and it may take longer for the infection to go away.
Will I See the Early Symptoms of Toenail Fungus in Other Places?
For the most part, toenail fungus stays localized. It grows and spreads quickly, but that doesn’t mean you’ll experience a fungal infection throughout your entire body.
It may spread to other toes when it’s left untreated. The big toe is usually the most common for showing signs of a fungus. But you should still pay attention to all of your toes.
Keep track of the skin between your toes. Toenail fungus that spreads to the skin on your feet can cause athlete’s foot. Signs of athlete’s foot include itching, stinging and burning between the toes.
You may also see a rash start to form. Athlete’s foot can spread to the toenails, or toenail fungus can spread to the skin. Start treatment for athlete’s foot straight away.
Sometimes toenail fungus can lead to something called ‘jock itch.’ This is a fungal infection of the genitals. It can affect the inner thighs and buttocks. While there are other ways to get jock itch, it can sometimes spread from toenail fungus.
Underwear and swimsuits are common culprits, as you typically pull them on over your feet. If you have a toenail fungus, be careful when getting dressed. You could be spreading the fungal spores to other areas of the body through your clothes. Funguses can live on surfaces for months, so keeping your clothes clean and disinfected is essential.
What Are the Most Severe Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
In most cases, catching the earlier signs of a toenail fungus can make for a faster recovery. The early symptoms tend to show up when the fungus is only a mild infection. Unfortunately, it’s easy for the fungus to multiply.
Here are the symptoms of a severe infection:
- Debris buildup – As the fungus continues to grow, debris can build up underneath the nail. If this happens, the nail can come loose from the nail bed and lift away. For severe infections, a doctor may need to remove it for a new, healthy nail to grow in.
- Bad smell – One of the more embarrassing symptoms of toenail fungus is a foul odor coming from the toenail. Some people’s feet may not smell great, to begin with, but a fungal smell can be much worse. Sometimes, it’s even compared to rotten cheese. If you notice a horrible smell coming from your toes, it’s a sign that the fungal infection is continuing to grow.
- Deformed nail – The more your nail changes shape, the worse the fungus. Nail deformities caused by a toenail fungus aren’t uncommon when the infection is severe. Pay attention to how your nails look so you can be aware of any changes that begin to occur.
- Pain – Depending on what caused the infection, toenail fungus can become painful. This is the case if the nail is pulling away from the nail bed.
Unfortunately, these severe symptoms aren’t always easy to manage. It’s much better to pay attention to the early warning signs if you want to get a head start on treating a toenail fungus.
But, some people believe that if the infection is mild enough, it will go away on its own. Because of its ability to grow and spread in dark, moist places, a toenail fungus won’t go away without treatment. That’s why it’s vital to use the [amazon link=”B00PWYG4X6″ title=”Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System” /].
What If I Have a Dead Toenail?
Perhaps the most intense symptom of a toenail fungus is eventually experiencing a ‘dead toenail.’ If a fungal infection gets too bad and the nail lifts away completely, it’s considered a dead nail. As stated above, it will likely either fall off on its own or have to be removed by a doctor.
If you still have a toenail fungus, keep treating it even after the toenail falls off. A new toenail will start to grow in its place. If you aren’t treating the infection, that new nail could become infected as well. That could make the treatment process take twice as long.
Don’t assume that just because the infected nail falls off that the fungus will go away with it. Continuing to treat the infection after you lose a dead nail can help to keep it away as a new nail grows in.
How Do You Remove a Toenail Fungus?
You can start to treat a toenail fungus at any stage. Though it’s easier to do it early on, treatment is available for both mild and severe infections.
The best way to get rid of toenail fungus depends on the severity of the infection itself. If you have a mild case, you may be able to use a home remedy or DIY solution for curing the infection.
A few of the better home remedies for getting rid of toenail fungus include:
- Tea tree oil: It has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. It’s one of the most potent essential oils for getting rid of fungal infections at home. You can use a tea tree oil foot soak or apply directly to the nails. The antifungal properties will stop the fungus. It’s also an antiseptic, which can keep the infection from spreading.
- Apple cider vinegar: This is another favorite home remedy. This is due to its antifungal properties and how well it prevents fungus from spreading. The acidic nature of ACV creates a harsh environment for fungus to grow in.
- Coconut oil – This also has antifungal properties. It also contains fatty acids that can penetrate through the nail and get right to the fungus. This removes the protective layer of the fungal cells, and they die off easier. Coconut oil also works as a moisturizing agent for your nails and toes. That can help to lower the risk of your surrounding skin cracking.
One of the best all-natural products is the [amazon link=”B00PWYG4X6″ title=”Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System” /]. It has potent ingredients, like tea tree oil, to kill fungus as quickly as possible.
If you have a more severe fungal infection, you may need to see a podiatrist. In some cases, you might need oral antifungal medication and a topical treatment.
How Long Does Recovery from Toenail Fungus Take?
There are many benefits to recognizing the early signs of toenail fungus. Most importantly, you can start treating the fungus right away. The earlier that you treat it, the less time it takes to recover.
If you wait for the symptoms to become severe, it WILL take longer for the fungus to completely clear up. A good rule of thumb is the longer you ignore a toenail fungus, the longer it can take to heal.
Find a treatment option that works. Any treatment you choose should have strong antifungal properties. With the right treatment, a fungal infection can clear up in a matter of weeks. Severe infections may take several months to go away completely.
Some people are tempted to stop treating their toenail fungus once they start to notice their symptoms clearing up. This mistake could lead to your fungal infection returning. Toenail fungus is resilient and strong.
If you start treatment and stop too soon, it could come back, and you’ll have to start over again. Instead, it’s a good idea to keep treating the fungus for a few weeks even after it looks like it’s gone. This will keep it from coming back or spreading to other toes.
What Are the Signs of Toenail Fungus Healing?
Unfortunately, your nail isn’t going to go back to normal in a day. But, by keeping track of how the nails look, you’ll be able to notice significant changes over time.
You will start to lose layers of the infected nail. You can trim them away with nail clippers as the nail continues to grow. Doing this not only helps to ‘clip away’ the infected parts of the nail, but it can make it harder for a fungus to keep growing.
As the infected nail grows out, signs of a healthy nail growing in its place should be pretty easy to notice. The color of your nail should return to normal.
It should also change back to a normal texture. If you experienced a thickening of your nails, they should start to thin out. The nails should become stronger as well and feel less brittle and rigid.
All warning signs of toenail fungus should start to clear away as it heals. When your new nail grows in, it should look stronger and healthier without any of the signs and symptoms of a nasty infection.
Again, this can take a long time, but noticing the healing process along the way can be encouraging and can let you know your treatment is working.
Pay attention to your feet every day. It’s easy to assume our feet and toenails are always healthy, so we don’t look at them carefully as often as we should.
Unfortunately, that can lead to a fungal infection getting pretty severe before we take the time to start treating it. Use the [amazon link=”B00PWYG4X6″ title=”Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System” /] when you become aware that there’s a problem.
Starting a daily foot care routine can make a big difference. This should include keeping track of what your nails look like daily. You should also make sure they are as clean as possible, well-trimmed, and moisturized.