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What Causes Big Toenail Fungus

Why Are My Toenails White

What is toenail fungus?

Maybe this sounds familiar: You’re trimming your toenails, contemplating whether to polish them with Relentlessly Ruby or go dark with Black Cherry Chutney, when you notice white spots on your toenails.

Where did those come from? Discolored, brittle, or thick toenails can be a sign something isn’t quite right in your body. But that doesn’t mean there’s an immediate cause for concern.

Most of the time, white toenails aren’t a big deal.

The spots might’ve come from bumping your toe or a common toenail fungus that a doctor can easily treat. Although it doesn’t happen too often, white toenails may suggest a more serious matter, like a vitamin deficiency or disease.

Here are some reasons why you might have white toenails and how to prevent and treat them.

What Should I Do If My Toenail Is Falling Off

First, dont panic. Even if your toenail falls off, it will grow back within three to six months. However, getting treatment from your trusted podiatrist can help to protect your toe while your nail grows back and prevent further infection from developing. If you sustain an injury or notice symptoms of a fungal infection it is in your best interest to seek treatment before your nail becomes lose and detaches. Also, if you experience any pain, swelling, discharge or odor, make an appointment for treatment before your condition becomes worse.

Your podiatrist will provide treatment and medication to heal your nail and nail bed and clear it of infection. If necessary, your doctor may remove any loose parts of your nail to prevent it from tearing and causing more pain or infection.

Warning Signs Of Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is an unsightly and embarrassing infection that is contagious and often difficult to get rid of. And while some of you may have a mild case and barely even notice the fungal growth at all, others actually suffer from intense pain as their infection grows and spreads.

When patients visit our office looking to relieve pain caused by toenail fungus, they are usually finally doing something about the infection after months or even years! of ignoring the condition and allowing it to thrive.

Waiting to seek treatment they soon find is a huge mistake!

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Whenever you have an infection, you shouldnt wait to seek medical care the sooner you get the care you need, the quicker and more effective treatments will be.

Its like the old saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. And this is true when it comes to toenail fungus looking for symptoms of this pesky condition before they become a problem will help you make the most of treatment opportunities and minimize complications.

The bottom line is that the more you allow fungus to grow and spread under your nail, the more difficult it will be to actually get rid of it. So staying aware of symptoms and catching them early can really make a huge difference for your recovery.

And of course, if you want to catch it early, you need to know what to exactly look for thats why we are here!

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Exposure To The Fungus

The chances of developing fungal infections are based on the environment the individual is currently in at the moment. There are certain types of environment where fungus has a higher chance of surviving and spreading. Places that are damp, dark and warm will show a higher percentage of fungus growth than those that are dry and cold.

With this in mind, shoes are the common causes of fungal infection as tight and form fitting footwear can increase the chances of fungus development due to it being warm and mostly wet with sweat. This is why it is ideal to wear shoes that are made from breathable fabric and offers adequate room for toes to move.

There are several factors that account for the spread of fungal infection which we will discuss below.


Fungus can thrive in warmer temperatures. Body parts that are mostly covered throughout the day are perfect breeding grounds for fungi. This is doubly true if you are already living in a warm climate area. Constricting shoes and thick socks can cause fungal infections to develop and thus it is recommended that you always make sure that your feet are dry and clean at all times.


Fungi are known to spread faster in high moisture areas. Areas with high humidity, flooded areas and sweat proliferates fungi to alarming levels quickly. Again, it is important that measures are taken so that moisture will not be trapped within your shoes and allow proper air circulation as well to keep your skin dry and cool.

What To Do After Toenail Falls Off

Nail fungal infection: Causes, treatment, and symptoms

After the nail falls off, your nail bed is going to be raw and vulnerable to infection. So, the first thing you want to do is keep that nail bed clean and wrapped in a fresh bandaid.

Use run-of-the-mill wound care like Neosporin and large bandaids. Keep the area dry and clean.

Once the skin of the nail bed has healed, you should begin using a topical antifungal treatment on your toenails .

Use this treatment until the nail has fully grown back. If new growth is looking healthy — great. But donât stop treatment unless your doctor recommends it.

Using this antifungal medication ensures that the new healthy nail wonât get infected by the fungus that still remains. Unfortunately, recurrence of toenail fungal infections is common, so be diligent about using the medication.

If you stick with it, you could have a perfectly healthy nail to show for it.â

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Is It Possible To Prevent The Recurrence Of Nail Fungus

Tinea pedis, also known as athletes foot or foot fungus, can cause recurrence of fungal nails. Therefore, it is important to manage this condition. One can apply over-the-counter antifungal medicines such as clotrimazole or terbinafine cream as directed to affected skin. Keeping footwear and socks clean can be helpful. You can also use portable UV light sanitizers to disinfect shoes.

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Special Groups At Risk For Complications In Severe Onychomycosis

Delaying the treatment of a nail fungus until its late stages can be excruciatingly challenging. For some people with other diseases/conditions, avoiding the onset of severe onychomycosis is essential. The dangers that involve the end-stage nail disease can lead to an even more harmful situation for them.

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Toenail Fungus Treatment Options For You

Your podiatrist will determine the proper treatment method for you based on the severity and extent of the infection.

For milder infections, he or she may prescribe a medicated solution containing an antifungal ingredient such as that found in Tincture of Fungaoid, Formula 3, Elon, Fungasil, or Penlac. You apply the polish yourself, generally twice a day until the infection is gone, which could take up to a year.

During the course of topical treatment the doctor may suggest that you come in periodically to have the nail thinned in order to allow the medication to penetrate more effectively. If the infection is more severe, your doctor may offer you an oral antifungal medication such as Sporanox or Lamisil.

Oral treatments should be considered for individuals who are in good health and have tried topical treatments, especially if multiple nails are involved and the nails are painful. Lab work is required prior to oral treatment in order to assess liver function and safety. If these treatment methods fail, your doctor may consider surgical or chemical removal of your infected toenail.

This method is a simple in-office procedure requiring minimal healing time. Removing the infected nail allows a new nail to grow in unless a procedure is performed that permanently destroys the nail matrix , but regrowth may take up to a year.

Photodynamic laser therapy is a new method being used to treat nail fungus. The nail is exposed to intense light after its been treated with an acid.

Is It Fungus Or Melanoma


Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can develop on the nail bed. It has a dark brown or black color and can be mistaken for toenail fungus or another toenail problem like a bruise. Melanoma is much less common than toenail fungus, but it can be life-threatening if not caught early.

Both toenail fungus and melanoma can appear as a dark stripe on the toenail and may increase in size over time. The toenail can become split and damaged in both conditions.

Toenail fungus is more likely to cause thickening of the toenail and a buildup of material underneath it. Melanoma causes the skin of the nailbed to change color, which does not happen with toenail fungus, but it can be difficult to see.

Because melanoma can be very aggressive, its important to have your doctor examine a darkened toenail. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of toenail fungus by looking at clippings under a microscope and of melanoma by taking a biopsy.

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Recognize Nail Fungus In The Early Stages

An infection should be treated early as soon as the first symptoms of nail fungus can be recognized.

If you are not sure whether it is nail fungus, you should consult a doctor. When treating nail fungus, you shouldnt lose any time, as it is very tedious.

A healthy fingernail or toenail is light pink and shiny, the nails surface is smooth, and the shape is even.

The nail fungus attacks the nail and feeds on the keratin of the nail. For this reason, one of the first signs is a slight change in the color of the nail .

Most of the time, the person concerned hardly perceives any symptoms or pain.

The nail often loses its typical shine at the beginning of the infection and becomes dull.

The picture above shows the typical course of onychomycosis very well.

In the initial stage, the fungal nail infection often begins on the front or side of the nail and spreads from there towards the middle towards the nail root.

Signs Of A Toenail Fungal Infection

  • Discolored toenails. Nails can be brown, black, white, or yellow. Usually a small area changes color at first and it slowly spreads.
  • Thickened toenails. Over time, the nail becomes thick, material builds up under the nail, and the nail can develop an irregular shape, grooves, or a crumbling appearance.
  • Affects one or more toenails. The fungus may spread to other toenails. The big toe is most commonly affected. The fungus can also occur in fingernails.
  • Starts at the end or side of the toenail. The infection gradually spreads toward the cuticle.
  • Usually painless unless there are skin changes or injury to the nail bed or if shoes press on the thick nail.
  • Athletes foot. Some people will also have skin fungus on their feet, which looks like red, peeling skin between the toes.

Dr. Rx

Patients may say that they are embarrassed to go to the pool or the beach, or they avoid wearing sandals. They describe their nails as thick, crumbling, and abnormally colored. One patient described their nails as looking like an animals horn, which is pretty accurate. But they are so thrilled when they see results from treatment! Dr. Anne Jacobsen

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How Do You Treat Toenail Fungus

Depending on the nature and severity of your infection, treatments may vary. Most over-the-counter treatments are minimally effective at best, but almost none of them have produced a permanent treatment. The main reason for these poor results is that the fungal infection resides deep within the nail or nail bed and the topical medications have great difficulty in penetrating to this depth. A fungus may work its way through the entire nail, penetrating both the nail plate and the nail bed. Podiatrist Dr. Burns at Arizona Foot Doctors offers penetrative nail fungus treatments to completely remove the fungal infection. Each patient case is unique, so consult with Dr. Burns to find the best treatment option for you. Treatment may include:

  • Topical or oral medication and debridement . The newer oral antifungal medications are the most effective . Common oral medications are Lamisil and Sporanox. A common topical medication is Penlac nail lacquer.
  • Temporary removal of the infected nail
  • Permanent removal

What Is The Outlook For Someone With Toenail Fungus

View of a fungal infection in toenail of big toe

While toenail fungus is common, its usually not harmful. Symptoms mostly affect the look of your toenail.

Toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes or other areas of your body. When getting dressed, put your socks on first to reduce the chance of spread.

Treating toenail fungus takes a long time, and it doesnt always work. Even then, toenail fungus often returns. Discuss the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus with your provider to determine whats best for you.

Practicing good hygiene and foot care reduces the chance toenail fungus will come back. If you have diabetes, getting regular foot exams may help you address foot problems before they get serious.

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Softening And Scraping Away The Nail

As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.

Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.

To use the treatment:

How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus

Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:

  • Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
  • If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
  • Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
  • Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
  • Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
  • If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
  • Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
  • Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
  • Trim toenails straight across .
  • Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.

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Examining The Causes Symptoms And Treatment Of Toenail Fungus

It is important to keep your body healthy, from your head right down to your toes. Toenail fungus is a common condition that can impact the health of your toenails and lead to pain and embarrassment. If you are concerned about toenail fungus, schedule an appointment with a foot doctor in Sugar Land to have your feet examined. You can also find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for toenail fungus below.


Nail fungus is a type of fungal infection that can take root in the space between your nails and your skin. Toenail fungal infections are more common than fingernail infections, as the toes are often confined in socks and shoes, which provide an ideal environment for fungal growth. Toenail fungus is often spread in warm, damp areas, such as in locker rooms and around public swimming pools.


Toenail fungus can have a variety of effects on the nails. This type of infection can cause the toenails to become discolored and yellowed. Infected nails may also thicken as the infection spreads. Other common symptoms which indicate that you should schedule an appointment with your podiatrist include nails that are distorted, dull, and brittle. Toenail fungus may affect just one of the nails on a foot, or can spread to several nails. You may also feel pain in your toes or notice a foul odor coming from your toenails if you are suffering from toenail fungus.


Treating Toenail Fungus Without Medications Or Surgery

How Did I Get Toenail Fungus? -Indianapolis Podiatrist Discusses Fungus Infection of Toenails

Toenail fungus can be tough to eliminate. Thats why Dr. Kaplan chooses to use laser energy rather than creams, medications, or even toenail removal surgery. Thanks to the CoolTouch® laser system, Dr. Kaplan often tackles pesky infections with anywhere from 1-3 treatments. Hello beautiful, clear nails!

If you need treatment for a fungal infection or want to learn more about CoolTouch laser treatments, were just a call or click away. Call our San Mateo or Half Moon Bay, California, office or request an appointment online for toenail fungus treatment.

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What To Do If Youre Losing A Toenail To Fungus

There are only a few reasons why your toenail might fall off: injury, medical removal, or toenail fungus.

If youâre dealing with thickened, yellowed toenails that are brittle and becoming misshapen — youâre certainly not alone. Toenail fungus is extremely common. Experts estimate that onychomycosis, the medical term for toenail fungus, affects 1 in 10 people.

If left untreated, severe toenail fungal infections can cause toenail detachment. In this article, we detail why this happens and what to do next.

Can Thick Toenails Cause Complications

Untreated toenail infections can cause some complications. Over time, the infection can get worse, and symptoms may become more severe. Toenails can thicken to the point that they cause discomfort when you try to wear shoes or even make it more difficult to walk.

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, treatment is vital so the fungus doesnt contribute to secondary infections or complications.

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