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Symptoms of Toenail Fungus

SYMPTOMS OF TOENAIL FUNGUS
By Bethesda, MD & Springfield, VA Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross

Though we’ve touched briefly on what the symptoms of toenail fungus are, it’s time to take a closer look at what toenail fungus looks like and how you can tell you have it.

Symptoms Of a Mild Toenail Fungal Infection

Not all fungal nail infections are created equal, so if you have a mild one, the symptoms will be mild. This could grow into a moderate or severe fungal infection, though, so be aware that not doing anything could make things worse.

A mild toenail fungal infection can have the following symptoms:

  • White spots or streaks on the nail’s surface
  • Damaged, crumbling, and discolored nail surface (usually brown or gray)
  • Soft or powdery nail surface
  • Brittle nails
  • Slight thickening of the nail

For a mild toenail fungus, home remedies may work well. Tea tree oil is one recommended treatment, with topical application directly to the affected nail and the surrounding skin. However, if this doesn’t make the infection better, it may be time to consult with a podiatrist.

Symptoms of a Moderate Toenail Fungal Infection

If you have a more severe type of fungal nail infection, you may have bypassed the mild stage all together. In this case, it’s hit or miss with home remedies, so consulting a doctor is your best option for successful treatment.

Symptoms include:

  • Thickening and discoloration of the nail, usually brown, gray, or yellowish in appearance
  • The nail crumbles or begins to lift away from the nail bed
  • The skin around the nail becomes affected
  • “Toe jam” under and around the edges of the nail
  • Foul odor

In the case of moderate toenail fungus, there’s a good chance that it can become severe, which is why treatment is recommended at this stage, before it gets really bad. Once the toenail fungus becomes severe, non-invasive or non-surgical treatments are less likely to be effective.

Symptoms of a Severe Toenail Fungal Infection

If you have a severe toenail fungus, it can be especially detrimental to your health if you have conditions that compromise your immune system. In cases like these, it is imperative that you see a podiatrist, as the risks of not treating are much greater.

Some symptoms of a severe fungal infection include:

  • Severe discoloration of the toenail
  • Separation of the nail from the nail bed
  • Ridges in the toenail
  • Severe thickening of the nail
  • Brittle and crumbling toenails
  • Foul odor
  • The skin around the toenail looks powdery or scaly
  • Pain when wearing shoes, walking, or standing

If left untreated, the fungal infection can spread to the entire nail and cause the nail to fall off on its own or the need to have it surgically removed for treatment.

The Dangers of Not Treating Toenail Fungus

Those who have nerve damage, poor circulation, or a compromised immune system are at the greatest risk, especially diabetics. Toenail fungus is one of the causes for foot amputation in diabetics, so if you have diabetes and develop a toenail fungal infection, it is imperative to see a specialist and begin treatment right away.

Other consequences of leaving toenail fungus untreated include:

  • Surgical removal
  • The fungus spreads to other parts of your body such as your legs, back, and hands
  • Other infections and bacteria getting into the skin due to cracking of skin and nails because of the fungus
  • Spreading infection
  • If the fungus or bacteria make it into the blood stream, sepsis or blood poisoning may occur

Though extreme cases aren’t necessarily common, it’s better to be on the safe side of things and have a Bethesda, MD Podiatrist or Springfield, VA Podiatrist look at your feet. Dealing with toenail removal surgery or foot amputation isn’t a good alternative to treating early, or at least as soon as you’re aware of the situation. Sepsis is a consequence that could very well become fatal.

If you have a toenail fungal infection and would like to know what your treatment options are, please call us. Though it seems like a benign problem at first, it can quickly become more serious, and we’re here to help! Same day appointments are available, so call us today at 301-656-6055.


The Podiatry Centers treat all medical and surgical foot and ankle conditions. Licensed Bethesda, MD Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross can help bring you foot and ankle pain relief.

Our Bethesda, Maryland (MD) and Springfield, Virginia (VA) Podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Woodbridge VA, Fairfax VA, Annandale VA, Arlington VA, Alexandria VA, Burke VA, Gaithersburg MD, Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD and Chevy Chase MD.

Return to a pain-free life and get back to the things you love!



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The Podiatry Centers located in Bethesda, Maryland (MD) and Springfield, Virginia (VA) treat all medical and surgical foot and ankle conditions. Licensed Podiatrist,
Dr. Paul Ross can help bring you foot and ankle pain relief.

Our Bethesda, Maryland (MD) and Springfield, Virginia (VA) Podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Woodbridge VA, Fairfax VA, Annandale VA, Arlington VA, Alexandria VA, Burke VA, Gaithersburg MD, Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD and Chevy Chase MD.

Return to a pain-free life and get back to the things you love! Call 301.656.6055 today!


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