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How Does Nail Fungus Look Like

Should You Be Worried

How to prevent and treat nail fungus

In the shortest way possible, the answer is no. There is nothing too scary about fungi if you are a healthy person. However, people with really weak immune systems or poor blood flow to the feet can have infections more often than the others. Even people who have had diabetes for a longer period of time could get nail fungi and will cure it harder.

Laser Procedure For Toenail Fungus Under The Nails

Using a laser directly on the toenails helps to reach those areas underneath and inside the nail. This is because the type of light used can penetrate through the tough layers of the nails. Laser procedures are very convenient because they can be completed in under 10 minutes per foot.

The PinPointe foot laser is FDA-approved for the temporary increase of clear nail in patients with onychomycosis.

This machine can be used on almost all patients because it has virtually no side effects. In one study, over 83% of people who received three sessions with a laser and improved their foot hygiene had no fungi after 18-months.

Some people start to see visible improvement after just one visit, although you may need to return a small number of times for follow-up.

The laser works by targeting the fungi without hurting your skin and nails. Its designed to be at the right level to penetrate your nail and damage the infecting fungi, while not being too high to cause burning or pain for your feet. Most people dont feel anything, or they just feel a warming sensation.

At the time of the procedure, the toenail will usually not become instantly clearit takes time to grow out. As long as your infection is treated and you dont get re-infected, you should see new healthy, clear nail as it grows out within 12-18 months.

When To See A Medical Provider

Reach out to your medical provider if youre experiencing symptoms of a toenail fungal infection and are unsure how to treat it.

Symptoms of a toenail fungal infection include:

  • Discolored nails that appear yellow, brown, or white
  • Toenails that are brittle or thick
  • Toenails that are fragile or cracked

Symptoms that warrant more immediate medical attention are:

  • A fungal infection that doesnt go away or improve
  • Toenails that are painful to touch, red, or drain pus

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Possible Complications Of Toenail Fungus

As a fungal infection progresses, the toenail may become painful and thicker, and the fungus may spread to other nails and the surrounding skin, causing athleteâs foot. It is better to treat a toenail infection early before it becomes severe and harder to treat.

These are some typical signs that your toenail fungus infection is becoming more severe:

  • Continued toenail discoloration: yellow to a darker colour
  • Continued brittleness and crumbling
  • Possible pain under the toenail
  • Further toenail thickening
  • Spreading of the infection to other nails
  • Spreading of the infection to the surrounding skin

What Are The Signs Of Nail Fungus

Does this look like nail fungus? I remember kicking the bed post by ...

If you get nail fungus, youre likely to see one or more of the following changes to your nails:

  • Part of a nail turns white, yellow, brown, or another color. At first, you may just see a spot of discoloration at the tip of your nail. Without treatment, this discoloration may spread, covering more of the nail.

  • Debris builds up under the nail.

  • A nail begins to lift up, so its no longer firmly attached to the finger or toe.

  • A nail turns white, and the surface of the nail may feel soft, dry, and powdery. The nail also thins, so you may be able to scrape off the nail.

  • Nails thicken and turn yellow or brown, often this affects all of the fingernails.

  • A nail splits or crumbles.

Treatment is important

Without treatment, the fungus can spread and damage more nails.

Having nail fungus is usually painless. At least, its painless in the beginning. However, if you put off getting treatment, the fungus can grow. When the fungus worsens on toenails, wearing shoes can become painful.

If you see any changes to a nail, you should see a board-certified dermatologist. When caught early, nail fungus may clear with treatment applied to the nail. As the fungus grows, it becomes more difficult to clear the infection.

ImagesImages 1,2, and 3 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 70:918-23.

Image 4 used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

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What Are The Potential Complications Of Toenail Fungus

People with diabetes, circulation problems, or weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing toenail fungus complications.

If left untreated, toenail fungus can:

  • spread to other nails
  • make walking or wearing shoes painful
  • lead to permanent nail damage

Even after successful treatment, severe infections can leave nails with enduring changes. Recurrence is also common. As with most other conditions, seeking early treatment when symptoms are mild usually results in the best outcome.

Once treatment is over, talk with your doctor and ask about ways to reduce the risk of toenail fungus returning.

On My First Visit Dr Patel Diagnosed The Problem As Plantar Fasciitis And Began Treatment

I was dealing with nearly unbearable pain in my left foot. I was barely able to get through each day. I was sure my neuropathy was the problem. I went to a local podiatrist who told me the only problem I had was the neuropathy in my feet and I needed to see a neurologist. After conferring with my family doctor he referred me to Dr. Sanjay Patel.

On my first visit, Dr. Patel diagnosed the problem as Plantar Fasciitis and began treatment. After following Dr. Patels advice I no longer have pain in my left foot.

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What Does Nail Fungus Look Like

Nail fungus does not look particularly beautiful. The fungal infection discolors and deforms the nail.

Most of the time, the affected nail loses its natural shine and turns either yellow or brown. The toenail thickens and can crumble in advanced stages. With fingernail fungus, the symptoms are very similar.

The nail fungus often develops at the end of the nail and spreads over the entire nail over time.

Check out these pictures to see what nail fungus looks like:

Toenail fungus on the big toe in the terminal stages.

Horny white nail fungus on the big toe.

Detached nail on the big toe due to nail fungus.

The nail fungus is present on all five toes. It is already very pronounced and shows a strong curvature and cornification.

Black nail fungus on the left big toe caused by a mold. The nail fungus spread to the right foot.

The nail fungus can be recognized by the yellow discoloration of the nail.

When your nails look something like the pictures, its high time to act! At the beginning of the infection, over-the-counter medications can produce perfect results.

I have tested the various drugs and explain the advantages and disadvantages of the individual remedies against mycosis on the nail fungus treatment page.

What Are The Treatments For Toenail Fungus


Toenail fungus is notoriously hard to cure. If OTC fungal treatments do not work, contact your doctor. Treatment will depend on how severe the infection is and the specific type of fungus causing it.

Your doctor may start by trimming your nail, removing debris from under the nail, and scaling away the dead nail layers. Then, treatment may involve the following:

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How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Healths AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

What If I Have Later Stages Of Toenail Fungus

If your nails have already reached the thick, crumbly, majorly discolored stage, dont fret. Your case is not hopeless!

Toenail fungus can actually be quite complex, but our experts will take the time to carefully examine your condition, assess both the type and severity of the disease, and then recommend a precisely tailored treatment plan we feel will give you the optimal chance of clearing the fungus. One particular treatment method were particularly proud to be able to offer is laser treatment.

Laser treatment is able to pass through nail tissue and hit a fungal infection right at the source. Topical medications, on the other hand, can have more trouble reaching the underlying infection. And oral anti-fungal medications, while able to treat the problem from the inside out, can sometimes come with side effects that dont make them recommended for certain patients.

A course of laser treatment typically requires 3-4 sessions spaced out over a period of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the condition. These sessions dont cause any burning and rarely cause any pain most patients will feel a warming sensation and nothing more.

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Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus

If your toenail fungus is caused by something in your control , then yes. You can:

  • Wear shoes in public areas, especially ones that are typically wet, like pools and gyms.
  • Keep foot injuries clean and covered until they’re healed.
  • Protect your overall health by not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Wear supportive and breathable shoes.
  • You also may see a reduction in bouts of toenail fungus by keeping your toenails consistently clean, dry, trimmed, and free of nail polish .

    However, many causes of toenail fungus are caused by other conditions, like chronic illness, old age, and diabetes, and there may not be much you can do to prevent fungus in these situations. Dr. Spielfogel does recommend using preventative products if you know you’re at risk for fungal infections the Dr.’s Remedy line of nail care products, for example, includes an antifungal cuticle oil that can be used nightly to reduce the risk of fungal growth.

    What Else Causes Toenail Discoloration

    Does this look like nail fungus? Itâs been a long time since Iâve not ...

    Other microorganisms including bacteria can infect the nails. Chloronychia, or green-nail syndrome, is one notable example with these bacteria thriving in damp or wet conditions. Knowing the cause of your infection helps determine the best course of treatment. Again, its common for doctors to order lab testing. The dark discoloration can also be a secondary effect of fungal infection in which a misshapen toenail creates a space to harbor dirt and debris and spread the fungal infection to the entire toe.

    Dark discoloration can also be a sign of physical trauma to the toe, either as a bruise or as dried blood thats trapped under the nail. Physical trauma that doesnt cause the blood vessels to break may result in white lines or streaks. Keep in mind, too, that the toes are an extremity that may not be as sensitive to pain as other parts of the body. Its possible, especially if you dont look at your toes on a regular basis, that toe discoloration is caused by physical trauma that the person has forgotten about or was unaware of.

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    How Should I Treat Nail Fungus

    Podiatrists are experts at recognizing toenail fungus, so if you have any concerns about the condition forming they are the best professionals to consult. The best treatment for toenail fungus is the laser treatment, our laser is FDA approved to cure toenail fungus and typically requires only one treatment to be effective. This laser also has no side effects or downtime. Patients may resume regular activity right after the treatment is performed. To schedule a consultation with our nail doctor for the laser treatment in our Dallas, Tx clinic, give us a call at 1- 672-0625.

    How Fungus Forms On Toenails

    Usually toenail infection develops when the nail or surrounding skin has a small crack or cut and the area is exposed to fungus in the environment.

    Warm, moist conditions allow fungus to grow. Walking barefoot in locker rooms or shared showers can increase your risk of coming in contact with fungus. Having sweaty feet or wearing non-breathable shoes can help the fungus take hold and spread.

    Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and a weak immune system can increase risk for toenail fungus.

    Its also more common in older adults. Up to half of adults over the age of 70 may have toenail fungus, according to the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. A previous toenail injury, psoriasis, hyperhidrosis, and smoking can also increase risk. Children are rarely affected.

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    How Do Dermatologists Treat A Fungal Nail Infection

    Treatment usually begins with your dermatologist trimming your infected nail, cutting back each infected nail to the place where it attaches to your finger or toe. Your dermatologist may also scrape away debris under the nail. This helps get rid of some fungus.

    To completely get rid of the infection, most people also need one or more of the following treatments:

    Medicine you apply to the nail: If you have a mild infection, a medicine that you apply to your nails may get rid of the infection. This treatment helps keep new fungus out while the nails grow. Fingernails typically grow out in four to six months. Toenails take longer, usually takes 12 to 18 months.

    Probably the most difficult part of this treatment is remembering to use it as often as prescribed. Some treatments must be applied every day. Others you apply once a week. To get the best results, its essential that you apply these medicines exactly as directed.

    The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the following medicines that you apply to the nail to treat nail fungus:

    • Amorolfine

    • Efinaconazole

    • Tavaborole

    Side effects from these medicines are generally mild. Possible side effects include redness and swelling, an ingrown toenail, and stinging or burning when you apply the medicine. In clinical trials, none of these side effects caused patients to stop using the treatment.

    The FDA has approved the following systemic medicines to treat nail fungus:

    • Fluconazole

    • Itraconazole

    • Terbinafine

    What Can Happen If Left Untreated

    How does a nail fungus look like under Microscope

    While you can treat nail fungus on your own, if you are having trouble getting your toenail fungus under control, see a professional foot doctor for help. Leaving an infection alone, without treatment, can cause permanent damage within the nail and allow the infection to spread to other areas of your foot. Also, a severe toenail fungus infection is painful, so you shouldnt suffer needlessly when treatment is available.

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    Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Nail Fungus

    You will need to be really patient and persistent once curing it. You can only tell that you have Onychomycosis based on the appearance of your nails, so if you get it you will need to properly cure it for the upcoming period of time. Treatments are mostly requiring a medication called Terbinafine, which you need to take every 3 months through your mouth.Since toenail fungus is usually harmless but very difficult to treat, there are some home remedies and alternative medications that might help you.

    This can be your solution which you can prepare at home. Start by getting yourself:

    • 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda
    • 1 cup of white vinegar
    • Water
    • A bowl to soak your feet in
    • Paper towels

    How To:

    Mix 1 cup of your vinegar with plenty of water. Soak your feet in that mixture for 15 minutes and dry your feet with towels. Later that day, add a few tablespoons of baking soda the next time you prepare the soak for your feet. You can do these soaks about twice a day. It is good for you because the vinegar will kill the fungus and the baking soda will calm down the growth of it.

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    Is Toenail Fungus Painful

    Toenail fungus is rarely painful at first. In fact, a fungal infection can fester for weeks or even months without being detected, especially if a person doesnt regularly inspect their feet and toes. As the toenail fungus becomes more extensive and established, the toenail can thicken, grow brittle, and become misshapen. The toenail can become quite painful at this point. As the condition worsens, it may be difficult to wear shoes at all. Finally, the toenail may detach from the skin and/or fall off altogether.

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    The Dog Owners Guide To Guide To Canine Nail Fungus

    Canine nail fungus is a fungal infection that is caused by the fungal microorganism Blastomyces dermatitidis. This health problem is often seen in sporting and working dogs .

    The main reason working dogs are more prone to this condition is because they live a working and active lifestyle that makes them more prone to coming into contact with the areas that the fungal microorganisms grow i.e. in moist dark places , streams, rivers and creeks where the Ph levels are low.

    There Is A Wide Range Of Options With Varying Success Rates

    Getting Rid of Toenail Fungus

    Other than keeping your toenails trimmed and perhaps painted, you may not pay much attention to them unless a problem develops. Healthy toenails are pink, shiny and smooth, but a fungal infection can cause them to become discolored, thick, brittle and even painful.

    Toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is a common but challenging condition toenail fungus treatments include a wide range of options with varying success rates.

    Causes of toenail fungus

    Fungal nail infections are usually caused by fungi called dermatophytes that infect the skin beneath the nail yeast is another common culprit. Toenails are especially vulnerable to infection when your bare feet contact damp surfaces such as showers, swimming pools and locker rooms. If you have athletes foot, the infection can spread to the nails.

    Wearing closed shoes such as athletic shoes for extended periods also can contribute to infection if your shoes and/or socks are damp from perspiration or heat. Moreover, if your shoes fit snugly enough to put pressure on your toes, they can damage the nail bed, making it more susceptible to infection.

    People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, also may be more prone to toenail infections.

    Symptoms of toenail fungus

    Toenail fungus symptoms can develop slowly over time and may go unnoticed at first. Symptoms can include:

    Toenail fungus treatments

    • Tolnaftate
    • Terbinafine

    When to see a doctor for toenail fungus

    Preventing toenail fungus

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