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3 Early Signs of Fungal Toenails

3 Early Signs of Fungal Toenails

Flip-flops are part of the dress code year-round when you live in Florida. But when you have fungal toenails, your feet could be forced into hiding — unless you know what to look for. 

Toenail fungus is not a silent infection, and once it takes hold, it develops quickly and wreaks havoc on your nails. 

If you spot the early warning signs, you can nip the infection in the bud. Our Bay Breeze Foto & Ankle Specialists team has years of experience identifying and fighting against toenail fungus. We can get you the help you need to keep your feet as healthy as possible. 

How did I get this fungus?

You take good care of your feet, keeping them clean and dry as best. So, how did you wind up with fungal infection?

The truth is that even with the most diligent foot care, toenail fungus is a threat to virtually everyone. Many people pick up fungi through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Walking barefoot around warm, moist areas, such as public pools or lockers, can also become infected. 

Toenail fungus can spread if you share infected nail clippers or towels, and the fungus only needs a small cut in your skin or a crack in your nail to infiltrate. 

Some other risk factors that increase your risk include:

The area under your nail is warm and moist — the perfect breeding ground for growing fungus. Here are three telltale signs that your nail's been compromised. 

1. Discoloration

One of the earliest signs of a fungal toenail infection is discoloration. Your affected nail may become yellow, brown, or even greenish. Sometimes, your entire nail may become discolored; in other cases, only a portion may be affected. 

2. Thickening

Another early sign of fungal toenail infection is a thickening of the nail. The affected nail may become thicker than usual and even start to curve unnaturally or become distorted. These changes make it challenging to care for your nails as usual, and wearing shoes that pressure the affected toe may be uncomfortable. 

3. Crumbling or brittleness

Typically, your toenails are pretty tough. But as a fungal toenail infection progresses, your nail may become brittle and begin to crumble. A fungal nail breaks easily or even separates from the nail bed. For many, this is particularly painful and can make walking or wearing shoes difficult. 

Now what? 

It's just a little fungus. It should resolve on its own. Not necessarily. Toenail fungus typically doesn't go away without expert treatment. 

Dr. Aiken knows how quickly fungal nails can go from a minor embarrassment to a full-blown problem. If left untreated, it can spread to other toes and parts of your body. So, we take any evidence of fungus very seriously. 

To rule out an issue like psoriasis or bacterial infection, we may clip a sample of your nail and send it to a lab for further testing. If we catch it early enough, we can usually manage toenail fungus with topical, antifungal nail creams. 

For more advanced cases, we recommend more advanced treatments. HyperBlue® laser therapy is a noninvasive treatment that uses targeted light energy to destroy the fungus. 

Fungal toenail infections can be challenging to get rid of, but with prompt and effective treatment, you can get relief from your symptoms and prevent the infection from spreading. If you're concerned about the health of your toenails, call or click to schedule an appointment with our expert and get guidance on the best course of action.

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