Identifying Eary Stage Toenail Fungus

Learn about the signs, causes, and therapies of early-stage toenail fungus

Toenail fungus appears as a white or yellow patch under the tip of your fingernail or toenail, and it is a common condition. Nail fungus can cause your nail to discolor, thicken, and crumble at the edge as the infection progresses. It can impact several nails at once.

You do not need medication if your condition is minor and does not concern you. Self-care and medications can help if your nail fungus is painful and has thickened your nails. However, even if treatment is effective, nail fungus often returns.

Onychomycosis is another name for nail fungus (on-ih-Koh-my-KOH-sis). Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the areas between your toes and the skin on your feet (tinea ped is)

foot toenail fungus

What causes it to grow?

The overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail causes a fungal nail infection. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so they can naturally overpopulate in this type of setting. Nail infections are caused by the same fungi that cause jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm.


Nail infections may be caused by fungi that are already found in or on your body. You could have developed a fungal infection if you came into touch with someone who has one. Toenail fungus is more common than fingernail fungus because your toes are normally confined to shoes, where they are in a wet, moist climate.


If you have a manicure or pedicure at a nail salon, be sure to inquire about how and how frequently the staff disinfects their equipment. If tools like emery boards and nail clippers aren’t sanitized, they can spread fungal infections from one person to the next.

  • Infection of the distal subungual area

The most common form of fungal nail infection is a distal subungual infection, which may affect both fingernails and toenails. When infected, the nail’s outer edge becomes jagged, with white and/or yellow lines running through it. The infection spreads to the nail bed and underside.


  • A superficial infection that is white

Toenails are often affected by white superficial infections. A specific type of fungus attacks the top layers of the nail, causing distinct white spots to appear. These white patches eventually cover the entire nail, making it rough, soft, and vulnerable to crumbling. Pitted and flaking spots on the nail will occur.


  • Subungual infection at the proximal level

Proximal subungual infections affect both fingernails and toenails and are rare. As the infection progresses upward, yellow spots emerge at the base of the nail. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract this infection. It may also be caused by a mild nail injury.


  • Infection of Candida albicans

Candida yeasts are to blame for this infection. It may penetrate nails that have been affected by an infection or injury. Candida most often affects fingernails. People who regularly soak their hands in water are more likely to develop this condition.

The cuticle around the nail, which becomes swollen, red, and tender to the touch, is normally the source of these infections. The nail can partially lift off the nail bed or fully fall off.

The Signs and Symptoms of Fungal Nails

The good news is that, if caught early enough, toenail fungus can be easily eradicated, saving your nails from further damage.

So, what’s the best way to catch it early on?

The first move is to inspect your nails every day. Especially because toenail fungus can exist for a long time without causing symptoms.

When inspecting your nails, keep the following in mind:


  • Discoloration or darkening of the affected nail
  • Spots that are white or discolored but aren’t affected by an accident
  • The nail thickening or distortion
  • Nail streaks that are unusually white or yellow
  • Crumbling of the nail’s edges or tips, particularly where it’s discolored
  • Swelling and redness
  • The nail is emitting a foul odor.
  • It’s crucial to consider this when you’re in pain.
  • Rolling or wearing shoes causes pain.
  • The nail begins to break from the bed of the nail.

If you find one or more of these signs in your toenails, don’t wait for them to go away on their own; the infection will almost certainly continue to develop and spread (including to other parts of your body, such as your groin, where jock itch occurs).

Instead, have them tested as soon as possible so that the infection can be treated until it causes visible damage to your nail.

stamp out toenail fungus

Who is at risk of becoming infected with a fungus?

Several factors can lead to fungal nail infections. Each trigger has its care. While many of the causes of fungal nail infection can be avoided, several risk factors raise the chances of getting one. If you do any of the following, you’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection:

  • Suffer from diabetes
  • Afflicted with a circulatory disorder
  • Are over the age of 65
  • Artificial nails are worn
  • Take a dip in a public pool
  • Get a nail problem
  • A skin abrasion around the nail
  • Have wet fingers or toes for a long time
  • Afflicted with a compromised immune system
  • Closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots, should be worn.

Nail infections are more common in men than in women, and they are observed in adults more often than in children. You’re more likely to get these fungal infections if you have family members that get them often.


Because of their poor circulation, older people are at a higher risk of developing fungal nail infections. The nails also thicken and expand more slowly.

What Are the Treatments for Fungal Nail Infections?


In the past, treatments for fungal nail infections were only marginally successful. Since nails grow slowly and obtain very little blood supply, fungal nail infections are difficult to treat. Recent advancements in treatment methods, such as oral and topical (applied to the skin or nail surface) drugs, have been made.

The treatment of fungal nail infections has improved with the introduction of new oral medicines. Even with newer drugs, however, the rate of recurrence is high. There are several complications associated with treatment, and recurrence is a possibility.


Topical antifungals are drugs that destroy fungi and other infections by being applied to the skin and nails.


  • These topical agents can only be used if the fungal nail infection affects less than half of the nail or if the person with the fungal nail infection is unable to take the oral medications. Some of the drugs available include amorolfine (Curanail, Loceryl, Omicur), which is approved for use outside the United States, ciclopirox olamine (Penlac, which is applied like nail polish), efinaconazole (Jublia), sodium pyrithione, and bifonazole/urea (available outside the United States).
  • Topical therapies are limited in their ability to cure fungal nail infections because they cannot penetrate the nail deeply enough. Topical drugs, when used in conjunction with oral medications, can be helpful. As a result, treatment medicine concentrations are produced in two ways: topically and internally through oral medicine.

There are newer oral prescription medications available. These antifungal medications are more effective because they reach the nail plate within days of starting treatment.


  • Terbinafine (Lamisil tablets), fluconazole (Diflucan), and itraconazole (Sporanox capsules) are newer oral antifungal medications that have replaced older therapies like griseofulvin in the treatment of fungal nail infections. They have shorter treatment times (oral antifungal drugs are normally provided for three months), better cure rates, and fewer side effects than oral antifungal medications. These drugs are relatively safe, with few contraindications (conditions that make taking the drug inadvisable), but patients with liver disease or heart failure should avoid them.
  • While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved fluconazole (Diflucan) for the treatment of fungal nail infections, it may be used by some clinicians as an alternative to itraconazole and terbinafine.

Topical and surgical therapies (see below) can be paired with oral antifungal therapy to reduce side effects and length of treatment.

Toenail Fungus Treatment

Surgical procedures

The removal of the nail, either surgically or chemically, is one medical method to treating a fungal nail infection (nail avulsion or matrixectomy).

  • A urea compound can be used to chemically strip thick nails. This procedure can normally be left to a surgeon or dermatologist.
  • Without further surgery, surgically extracting the nail plate (fingernail or toenail) is not an appropriate cure for fungal nail infection. This technique can be used in conjunction with oral medical therapy as an adjunctive (additional) treatment.
  • A combination of oral, topical, and surgical therapy may improve treatment effectiveness while lowering treatment costs.

Treatment with a laser

Laser therapy is one of the most recent therapies for pathogens infecting the nails. The laser beam will penetrate nail tissue and disrupt fungal and other pathogens to the point that they are killed. During the operation, some patients may feel mild discomfort or pain. According to reports, laser therapy is just as successful as medical treatment. Certain patients may need more than one medication. This treatment can be very costly, and the success rate is low.

Toenail fungus home remedies

Toenail fungus can be treated with a range of approaches, including drug-free options, over-the-counter medication, prescription medications, laser therapy, and even surgical removal in extreme cases.

Try some of these successful toenail fungus home remedies:


❖   Weekly upkeep is needed.

Trim and file your nails once a week to get them ready for treatment. Toenail clipping relieves pressure on the nails and aids the penetration of antifungal solutions. After each use, make sure to clean the utensils. To cure toenail fungus and avoid it in the future, keep your nails clipped, clean, and dry.


❖   Socks and shoes that are clean

 Changing the socks and shoes regularly will also help to prevent the spread of unwanted foot fungus. Socks and athletic shoes may also be washed in hot water to kill any yeasts or fungi that have grown on the clothing. Some shoes can be dried in the machine. When it comes to washing shoes, another choice is to leave them out in the sun to dry.


❖   A cup of black tea

 To treat toenail or foot infection, soak feet in simple tea for a few minutes. The tannic acid in black tea dries the feet, kills bacteria, and helps to close the pores on the feet to minimize sweating. Two quarts of water should be brought to a boil, then five to six tea bags should be added. Enable 30 minutes for the tea to cool before soaking your feet. If required, use this foot soak regularly.


❖   Vinegar made from apple cider

Apple cider vinegar is another home cure for toenail fungus treatment. Vinegar is an antifungal ingredient that can be used to make a foot soak by mixing it with water. Its acetic acid part whitens discolored toenails and prevents infection from spreading to other toes.


❖   Baking Soda

To treat the affected nail, add baking soda to a foot bath. You can also make a baking soda paste with a little water and apply it directly to your foot. Allow 10 to 20 minutes for the paste to rest on the infected area before rinsing with warm water and thoroughly drying the foot.


❖   Oils that have been ozonated

Ozone gas is found in ozonated oils including olive and sunflower oil. The theory is that ozone provides oxygen to the infected areas, killing bacteria and stimulating skin cells to speed up the healing process. Several fungal strains were successfully treated with the oil. Clean and dry your foot first before attempting this remedy.


❖   Extra virgin olive leaf extract

Oleuropein, a natural antifungal and antimicrobial, is present in the olive leaf extract. To prevent infection, an olive leaf salve may be applied to the toenails. To raise your immune system and treat toenail fungus on a systemic level, you can take capsules containing the extract.


❖   Zinc

Zinc oxide is a mineral that can be used to treat fungus. To combat infection and reduce the symptoms of foot fungus, the miconazole-zinc oxide may be sprayed or applied to the infected area as a skin protectant. Consult your doctor to see if including zinc in your foot care routine is appropriate for you.


❖   Garlic

Garlic is an antimicrobial powerhouse. Garlic cloves, chopped, should be applied to the infected nails for 30 minutes as a topical remedy. Raw garlic should be used with caution because it can cause a chemical burn.


❖   Diet plan

Candida overgrowth may be feeding fungus in your current diet. To starve the yeast and improve toenail fungus, make the following dietary changes:

  • Remove sugar from your diet.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Limit yourself to one cup of carbohydrates a day.
  • Coconut oil is used to cook.
  • Include ginger and garlic in your recipe.
  • Take a probiotic supplement.

❖   Workout

Exercise can help speed up the healing process. Natural vitamins are released and toxins are flushed as blood flows faster through the body. To stop exacerbating toenail fungus, make sure to keep your feet clean. Wear moisture-wicking socks, antifungal foot powder, remove shoes immediately after a workout to allow feet to breathe, and shower in flip-flops or sandals.

In Conclusion

If the infection is mild and diagnosed early, a regular cleansing regimen combined with nail filing and a liquid antifungal drug can help keep the infection at bay. Fungal infections, on the other hand, are remarkably resilient and often recur. Instead, schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle specialists as soon as possible. A foot and ankle specialists will determine the source of the infection and recommend the best treatment option for you.