How do I know if I have a toenail fungus?

Sometimes it is difficult to tell a fungus from nail trauma or other nail diseases. The only way to tell if you have a fungus is to test with a nail biopsy which includes searching for the fungal organisms at the microscopic level.

What does toenail fungus look like?

A toenail fungus can cause the toenail to be many different colors including white, brown, and yellow. It usually starts as a small area of discoloration and then begins to spread throughout the nail. Normally it spreads slowly, so it is often difficult for people to catch right away. Once it infects the toenail and gets underneath the toenail plate, it causes thickening and changes as it infects the cells that are producing your nail. The fungus can also start splitting your toenail and weakening it.

I am a very clean person, so how did I get this fungus?

There are many ways someone can get a fungus. Usually a fungus gets into the nail by gaining an advantage against you. That’s right, it is a battle for your toenails- you against the fungus! Usually you need to have a cut or break in the skin near your nail where the fungus is exposed to an area where it can get in. If you are immunocompromised, you may also be more prone to getting a fungus because our bodies are always fending fungus off in our feet. When the immune system is overloaded and fighting several things, your feet can be the last on the priority list.

I went to a nail salon and now I have a fungus. How did this happen to me?

If the pedicure professional cut you when doing the cuticle cutter or nipped the tip of the toe when doing the nails, this opens up the area to a fungus. That alone will not cause a fungus. You need to have a fungus introduced to your toenails or areas around the toenails for you to get a fungus. Often, a fungus is introduced through the nail polish. They use that bottle of nail polish on everyone, literally. If they just got done using it on the lady that had fungal toenails, then you can bet that fungus is now living in that nail polish bottle. That fungus would love to be introduced to your toenails next!

Another way you can get a fungus at the nail salon is if they use dirty nail instruments on you or the water basin you soak your feet in has not been properly sterilized or cleaned. Nowadays, this way is more rare since they have been improving the hygiene for the safety of their clients, but also because word spreads fast when it comes to a fungus after a pedicure.

We recommend that if you don’t have a toenail fungus to begin with, you make sure it is not the gift you get during a pedicure at a salon. Bringing your own nail polish can significantly help you.

In the Spring and Summer here at Grandville Foot and Ankle, we always carry antifungal polishes in many colors that can help you fight your fungus while still having those beautiful nails for the season. Ask us about them!

Is a rash or scaling on my foot related to my toenail fungus?

It most certainly is! If your feet are sweating and often stuck inside dark moist areas (aka your shoes), then yes! You may have a fungal organism now living on your foot in addition to your toenails. It is caused by the same organism that causes toenail fungus, so it is especially important you get rid of it.

Most antifungals over the counter are not strong enough to kill foot fungus which is why most people attempt to treat it on the skin and fail. This is the reason many products have come out with new formulas and creams to combat fungus. We have a wide selection of products that work on foot fungus called tinea pedis. In addition, fungus did not find your foot and infect it overnight, which means you are not going to treat it overnight either. It is very important to get one of our great products to use, and to then stay on top of it for use daily. We also have shoe sterilizers and anitimicrobial foot soaks and sprays.

Is my toenail worth treating?

Only you can make that decision for yourself. But, we always say YES! Although it is rare for your foot fungus to cause other systemic problems in the body, there is always a risk to it spreading to other parts of the body and causing other problems. In addition, if you don’t take care of it early on, it will become much more difficult  in the future to treat if you later decide to. The longer you let it go, the worse it will become and the more difficult your road to recovery for your feet and toenails will be. Do not wait for the fungus to run your life. Run the fungus out of you and your beautiful feet.

Does sitting in the sun barefoot treat my fungus?

Although UV light has shown to benefit, that alone will not solve all your problems and excessive UV light exposure without proper protection can cause skin cancer. Instead, stop in our office for the advised antifungal treatments. 

I have never had ingrown toenails and now I have them. Can the fungus be causing this?

Yes, yes, yes! Fungus changes the integrity of your toenails and can start to make your cells produce a thick toenail. As the nail becomes more thick, it changes shape as it grows out and can worsen depending in pressures from the ground, your foot deformities, and shoe gear. Many people have never had ingrown toenails until they meet toenail fungus.

"My feet are ugly and I am embarrassed to be seen with them."

We assure you we have seen everything when it comes to you and your fungal toenails. We have seen toenails that curve around and bite into the undersides of your toe skin. We have seen ingrown toenail infections caused by a fungus. We have see elongated and thick toenails that are black underneath them. We have seen thin white colored toenails. Because we have seen it all, we feel very confident about treating you and getting your feet back on the road to recovery.

I don't think I have a fungus. What else can cuase my toenails to look like this?

Diseases like lichen planus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriases, and cancer can all contribute to toenail changes. It is important to see a specialist when you think one of these things may be the cause.

When toenail changes are caused by disease processes they often don’t follow the same course of a fungal nail and can also lead to permanent nail changes. The sooner you have it checked the better.

Toenails can also get a cancer in them that may look like a fungus. Sometimes these changes are ridges in the toenail, sometimes they are streaks of discoloration, and sometimes they are thickening of the entire nail plate! If you start to notice abnormal toenails, definitely give us a call! We know what this can look like and how to treat it.

I am preganant, but want to treat my fungal toenails... 

Often, we want to avoid as many medications as we can for the safety of you and your developing baby. There are not a lot of options for you until you have your baby, such as great antifungal cream options for you to use and soaks that can help kill fungus that we sell in our office. Although this may not be a definitive cure, we can aggressively treat your toenails after your baby is born to help get rid of the fungus you have developed. We also offer nail trimming for those mothers that can no longer reach their feet! 

I have cancer and now my nails are going as well...

We are sorry to hear you have cancer and you are right! Cancer can lead to toenail changes and make you more prone to developing a toenail fungus that is difficult to treat.  There are many options if you have cancer that you won’t be able to pursue until you are cancer free including oral medications and laser therapies. We do have some great topical options that have better success rates than ones you can find at the drug store. Also, we partner with your oncologist to offer the safest options with the least risks to you. Everyone is different which is why we have many options to choose from.

I not only have toenail fungus, but also fingernail fungus. What should I do? 

You came to the right place. We have treatment for both the hands and the feet so make sure to ask us about it. Hands are just as important as your feet!

One nail is growing funky! What can cause this?

It can be many of the things we discussed in our toenail fungus blog, but something else to be aware of are bone spurs. Yes, you heard me correctly! Bone spurs can actually cause a lot of pain underneath the nail and cause a toenail that looks like a fungus but is not. These are often a little more difficult to treat because it requires X-rays to see if you have one and sometimes surgery to remove the spurs if that is something you want due to the pain affecting your daily life activities. We have treated many of these before and can give you expert care and advice. Don’t wait on taking care of your feet, give us a call today!