Fungal infections of the toenails are quite common, and are caused by microorganisms that make their way into the tiny cracks in our skin, usually around the toenails. The toes are most often the site of infection because of the favorable environment of the foot… dark and damp. There are several indications or symptoms of a toenail fungus, and if you know what to look for these symptoms are very easy to spot.
Scroll for Disturbing Toenail Fungus Pictures Below
The first symptom you may notice is a small white or yellow spot on the nail, this spot may be very small making it hard to notice. The small spot on the nail is the beginning stages of the fungal infection and with time will grow and progress to a much larger area, sometimes engulfing the whole nail. The lack of discomfort, and the use of nail polish in women, can allow this minor change to go by un-noticed.
Examples of Toenail Fungus
Do Your Toes Look Like That?
After awhile the small yellow spot will gradually become larger, and the remaining areas of the toenail, that are not discolored, may become extremely dull. It is at this point you may notice a darker center in the yellow coloring on your toenail, or around the edges of your toenail. This darker brownish black discoloration is not a classic symptom of the condition, and often only occurs in severe cases of infection. A loss of the toenail may occur if this darker coloration occurs in conjunction with separation of the nail and skin.
The thickening and yellowing of the toenail is often referred to as a classic toenail fungus symptom. Another common symptom is the flaking of the toenail; sometimes if the fungus is severe enough it can actually cause parts of your toenail to flake off, disfiguring your toenail.
The only definite way to know if you actually have a toenail fungus is to seek medical advice. There are a few steps included in the diagnostic process, which usually includes a physical examination of the infected toe, then a series of questions, and finally a culture of the infected toe. Observation of symptoms is a very large part of the diagnostic process, this is due to the fact that fungal infections of the nails usually always present with the same set of symptoms. Also, your doctor may ask if you have been swimming in a public pool or a spa lately; swimming in a public pool or spa increases your chances for toenail fungal infections greatly.
Lastly, when your doctor cultures your toenail he is looking for very specific funguses, the identification of this fungus will help your doctor know what medication will best treat your condition. Not allowing your doctor to culture the infected toe can delay your recovery, and toenail funguses are very difficult to treat even when caught quickly. The thing one must realize about a nail fungus is unlike a cold there are not many conditions that mimic these symptoms. However, there are a few conditions that do, and it is imperative to find out the exact fungus that is causing the problem, and the only way to do this is by seeing your doctor.