What Are Toenail Fungus Symptoms?
There are several different types of fungus that can affect toenails and the symptoms of each vary. However, most any visible change to the color or consistency of a toenail, if it hasn’t been injured in any way, is likely the beginnings of a fungus infection. If left untreated, the toenail will undergo radical changes that are nearly impossible to miss.
A toenail fungus infection usually begins with a small spot of discoloration of the toenail. This is a result of the fungus growing under the toenail and attaching itself to the underside of it. The fungus is visible through the nail due to its naturally opaque color. The fungus may cause the toenail to lose its natural shine as well. If the fungus is untreated, it spreads through the entire nail bed, causing complete discoloration of the nail. The color may be yellow, white, brown, green, or even black. Most toenail fungus infections affect the area closest to the tip of the toe first, but certain fungi will invade at the cuticle, causing the infection to spread to the tip of the toenail.
Thickening of the toenail is another common symptom of a fungus. As it spreads throughout the nail bed, attaching itself to the toenail, it causes it to thicken considerably. A severe fungus infection can cause it to become so thick that it is difficult to trim properly. A severe thickening of the toenail due to fungus can also cause discomfort, as wearing shoes may bear down on it.
Distortion of the Shape
Changes to the shape of the toenail usually appear after the fungus infection has spread and remained on the nail bed and toenail for a considerable amount of time. While thickening is one of the earlier nail fungus symptoms and dangers, after time the thick nail can become twisted or distorted as it lifts off the nail bed.
A Foul Odor
When a fungal infection has reached the point that the nail has lifted off the nail bed, dirt, debris, and bacteria can become trapped under the toenail. This can cause an infection, which can produce a foul odor as the bacteria and skin cells essentially rot under the nail. In severe cases, infection can cause pus to accumulate in the bed, which also has an unpleasant odor; pus can also seep out from under the toenail.
Crumbling or Breaking
Some types of fungus will cause the toenail to crumble, while others will cause it to break off in large pieces or cause the entire toenail to fall off. The crumbling usually occurs at the tip of the toenail in those that have lifted off the nail bed. It will continue to erode as long as the fungus is present, which can expose the bed. In some cases, it may break off in pieces, and this breakage can occur anywhere on the nail, not just at its tip. If the toenail lifts completely off the bed, it can fall off.