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Toenail Fungus Infection Symptoms, Types and Treatment

The toenails can be infected by fungus that results in the thickening, discoloration, crumbling and chalkiness of the nails.  Aside from becoming disfigured, an infected nail can be painful making it hard to engage in physical activities.  It also develops an unpleasant odor.  Nail infection may also lead to onycholysis which is a condition in which the nail loosens and separates from the nail bed. 

Some of the telltale signs that nail fungus may be present include:

bulletthe nail loses its shine and luster
bulletthe nail becomes deformed
bulletthe nail becomes brittle, ragged and crumbly
bulletthe nail turns yellow, brown, green or black in color
bulletthe nail becomes loose, lifts up and may even separate from the nail bed
bulletthe nail gets thickened with debris build-up under it

ComplicationsNail fungus can be painful and may even result in permanent nail damage.  It can also develop into serious infections that can spread beyond the nails.  Diabetics and those with a weak immune system must be especially careful as nail fungus infection may cause ulcerations which are resistant to healing.  If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, you are strongly urged to seek professional medical attention if you suspect that you have a nail infection.The following are the different types of fungal infections:

DSO (distal subunguat onychomycosis): This is usually caused by a dermatophyte type of fungus. It takes up the space between the toe and the nail tip or the folds of the skin on the sides of the nails.  The toenail first turns into a yellowish color then begins to separate from the nail bed under it.  This type can be treated at its early stages while the nail is still only mildly infected with a topically applied medication.

PSO (proximal subungual onychomycosis): This infection is caused by the least common nail fungus.  Initially, a white or yellowish spot appears on the nail near the cuticle.  This then develops into plaque building up under the nail.  Next debris accumulates under the nail pushing the nail off the nail bed.  In some cases the nail comes off completely.  This type of infection is generally treated with a systemic

WSO (white superficial onychomycosis): The type of nail infection causes the surface of the nail to turn white and crumbly. It is treated by simply scraping off the fungus from the nail and applying a topical antifungal medicine.

Candida Albicans (yeast infection): This type of fungus more often infects fingernails rather than toenails. The part of the nail that is near the cuticle becomes green or yellow or sometimes the nail starts to look opaque.  This infection begins near cuticle turns nail yellow or green or the nail may look opaque. The nail may lift off the bed and can be painful when touched.  This type of infection may be treated with a topical medication.


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Last modified: 04/23/11