Toenail Fungus Symptoms

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 orToenail Fungus Symptoms 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.

Color Changes

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.

What Can Cause Toenail Fungus?

Fungus on toenails can be anything from a mild embarrassment to a condition resulting in pain and disfigurement. The symptoms of toenail fungus present themselves in various ways, according to the type and the degree of infection. Some people with toenail fungus experience only a mild thickening orToenail fungus yellowing of the nail, while others may find their toenails crumbling, leaving the nail bed unprotected. There are several types that infect toenails, but the causes of the different types of toenail fungus are similar.

Moisture in Socks, Shoes, and the Environment

One common cause of toenail fungus is excessive moisture. Fungi grow best in habitats that are warm and moist, including damp shoes and socks. Wearing shoes with holes in the sides or the soles that allow socked feet to get wet is one example of excessive moisture that can cause toenail fungus. The longer the wet socks and shoes are worn, the more opportunity fungus has to develop on the nails and foot tissue.

Another cause of excessive moisture is wearing heavy, non-breathable socks that cause feet to sweat. The heavy socks trap in moisture, and feet may be damp for lengthy periods, allowing fungus to develop. Excessive moisture can also be the result of wearing shoes without wearing socks, as this can cause feet to perspire, promoting the growth of mold. Working in a very humid environment can also promote the growth of toenail fungus. Even if your feet aren’t sopping wet, being exposed to dampness day after day increases the risk of fungal infections, as fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot is a condition that occurs on the toes and heels of the feet; it can affect hands also. Athlete’s Foot is caused by a fungal infection, and it causes the skin of the heels and toes to crack, flake, and peel. Severe cases can cause inflammation, burning, and oozing sores. Athlete’s Foot is quite contagious; exposure to socks, shoes, etc. of an infected person or using the same showerKeriderm for nail fungus can cause the fungus to spread to others. Not only is Athlete’s Foot easy to spread to other people, but it is also easy for the fungus to spread from the toes and heels to the toenails.

Having a Compromised Immune System

Another leading cause of toenail fungus is having a weakened immune system. At the first sign of infection, a healthy immune system will attack the infection and remove it from the body. Toenails are already at a disadvantage because they do not benefit from the amount of blood circulation that fingers and other body parts get. This means that the body cannot detect problems in toenails as easily as in those parts that get better circulation. This coupled with a compromised immune system makes it very difficult to fight toenail infections. When the body detects the infection, it is usually too far gone for a weakened immune system to be able to take care of it. The infection has already had the opportunity to progress considerably.


There are several remedies and solutions to consider. Baking soda is considered good for treating toenail fungus at home. Tolnaftate has been shown effective in products like Keriderm toenail fungus cream. But one of the best preventive remedies is to keep feet dry and clean. Disinfect shoes and socks and ensure they are dry and clean before use (just like they do at the bowling alleys).  In fact, some folks we have worked with use 3-4 pair of shoes, work boots and tennis shoes – rotating their use to allow bacteria a chance to die.