fungus nail

A fungus nail is a unsightly condition which can be difficult to treat.

Fungus nail usually begins towards the far end of the nail. It may start with patches of white or yellow discoloration. If fungus nail is left untreated, it will proceed to the base of the nail. It will attack the nail root (matrix) and cause the nail to grow very thick and deformed.

The big toe is usually the first nail to be affected with fungus nail. It can spread to adjacent toenails. In rare cases, fungus nail will also affect the skin surrounding the nails.

If fungus nail is not treated for along period of time, the nail will become very brittle.


Fungus nail is caused by microscopic organisms called Dermatophytes. Dermatophytes thrive on warm, moist conditions. They grow in the nail bed, beneath the nail and live off keratin. Keratin is the protein in the nail.

Can you get a pedicure with nail fungus?

If you have nail fungus, you should probably ask your doctor if it is safe to get a pedicure. You can also call the salon and ask if they have special treatments for nail fungus. Some salons are now offering laser toenail fungus treatments in addition to their usual pedicure services.

What does fungus nail look like?

In early stages, the nail may have white or yellow patches of color, and yellow horizontal streaks in the nail. In later stages, the nail will be thick, deformed, discolored and have a foul smell. In some cases, the nail splits and crumbles.

Best toenail fungus treatment

Antifungal medicines are usually the best options for treating toenail fungus. Oral antifungal drugs get rid of the infection more quickly than topical drugs like terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). These medicines are designed to grow a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected part.


The most common symptoms are:

  • brittle nail
  • split nail
  • thick and deformed nail
  • yellow or white patches of color on the nail
  • yellow horizontal streaks in the nail
  • nail changes on one or more nails (usually toenails)


One of the best ways to prevent fungus nail is to keep your feet as clean and dry as possible. Cotton socks will help keep your feet dry because they absorb perspiration. If you have reoccurring fungus nail, an anti-fungal powder may help prevent it.

Other types of fungal infections are: athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and tinea capitis