Toenail fungus is a chronic and potentially contagious problem that affects millions of people. Those who suffer from toenail fungus may experience a significant impact on their social life, particularly if the fungus spreads to their fingernails – a frequent occurrence.
There are several types of toenail fungus and as such, the symptoms can vary slightly depending upon the precise ailment that’s infecting the nail bed. The most common toenail fungus is called onychomycosis. Toenail fungus – onychomycosis – is an infection that is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. Though toenail fungus can affect anyone, it is more commonly found to affect older adults.
Toenail fungus often begins as a small spot of white, yellow or green that appears under the nail, typically near the edge. This is often paired with an array of other symptoms that worsen as the infection spreads deeper below the nail. Ultimately, the fungus can affect the entire nail, including the nail bed – the area where the new nail grows from; this causes all new nail growth to be infected as well.
Toenail fungus symptoms include:
- A white, yellow or green patch of discoloration under the nail, typically near the edge
- Painful or sore nails
- Thickened nails
- Discoloration, often yellow, green or black
- Crumbling at the edges
- Rough, abnormal nail surface texture
- Foul odor
- Fluid discharge from the affected area
- Distorted nail shape
- Scaly skin around the nail
- Inflammation, redness and swelling under and around the nail
- The nail may separate or lift from the nail bed
Toenail fungus can be very difficult to treat, especially infections which are in an advanced stage that are more stubborn and respond very slowly to any type of medication.
Toenail fungus may eventually cause your nail to fall off and there may be a subsequent growth of a deformed nail which may also cause a separate infection.