Toenail fungus can be a serious health issue and it affects 10% of the adult population. A fungal nail infection usually isn’t painful at all, although it can occur after a toenail injury sometimes. Because there’s usually no associated pain and the discoloration begins mildly, these infections often go undiagnosed and untreated for a long time, until they become a real problem. If untreated for a long time, some pain may begin to set in and it can become uncomfortable to wear shoes, walk, run or even stand for long periods of time.
The symptoms of toenail fungus can be vary and will usually be barely noticeable in the beginning. The most common toenail fungus infection is caused by dermatophytes. Depending on the type and severity of the infection, the symptoms may include:
- Off-white or yellowish discoloration of the toenail
- Yellow streaks in the nail bed and on the underside of the toenail
- Buildup of skin and nail debris under the toenail
- Thickened toenails
- Along with thickening, discolored toenails that may begin to separate from the skin
- Brittle and easily broken toenails.
People often mistake the typical fungal discoloration and thickening of the toenail as a “stain” or a simple sign of aging. While aging is one of the risk factors for a toenail fungus infection, it’s important to get the infection diagnosed and treated. A medical professional and even many aestheticians can often recognize the infection and recommend proper care. Laboratory tests are often necessary to confirm the infection or exact type of fungus to determine proper treatment.
If any of the listed symptoms above appear, it’s best to have a doctor take a look to make sure it’s not toenail fungus and, if it is, to keep it from spreading and treat the infection properly. Proper nail care and regular hand-washing are the best preventative solution for avoiding these pesky fungal infections.