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Fungal Toenail

Nail fungus, or onychomycosis (on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis), is a condition that occurs when a microscopic fungus enters the toenail, causing the nail to become thick and discolored. Fungal nails are typically caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. Anyone can get fungal toenails but the condition is more common among people over the age of 60. A fungal infection frequently begins with a minor trauma to the toenail, such as dropping something on the toe, stubbing the toe, or the toenail repeatedly bumping into a shoe. The damp, warm environment of a shoe can encourage fungal growth. Heredity may also be a factor.


The symptoms of fungal nails often begin with a white or yellow spot under the tip of the toenail. As the fungus spreads, the toenail begins to thicken and become brittle, with pieces breaking off or separating from the skin completely. The shape of the nail may become distorted, and the nail may look dull and discolored with a white, black, yellow, or green hue. The discoloration is caused by debris building up under your nail. There is often a foul odor associated with fungal nails. The skin underneath and around the nail may become inflamed and painful because of constant pressure from your shoe. If left untreated, the fungus may spread from toenail to toenail and the nail bed may become permanently damaged.


Fungal nails are often difficult to treat and could recur. At Ankle & Foot of Edmonds, we offer four treatment options for fungal nails. To determine whether you have a fungal infection, our doctors will carefully examine the toenail and ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. We may also perform tests to identify fungi by scraping some tissue from under the nail and clipping off a portion of your nail to send to a lab that specializes in dermatological pathology. Determining the underlying cause of the infection can help reveal the best course of treatment.

Treatment options may include trimming the toenails and applying topical medications to the toenail. Topical medications do not cure the fungus but may keep it from getting worse or spreading to other toes. Our doctors also prescribe oral medications, which have a very good chance of curing fungal nail infections but may cause side effects. Having a healthy liver is necessary if you want to take oral medications for toenail fungus.


To prevent fungal nails, avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms or public showers.  Wear flip-flops or water shoes in wet public areas. Keep the inside of your shoes dry and change your socks frequently, especially if your feet get sweaty. Let your shoes dry for 24 hours before you wear them again.

Wear shoes that fit properly and allow moisture to escape. Your shoes should have a wide toe box so that they do not rub against your toenails. Use absorbent, antifungal foot powder daily. Do not share nail files, clippers, socks, towels, or any other personal foot products with others. Fungal nail infections may come back, so it is important to do everything you can to prevent them from recurring.

Get Treatment for Fungal Nail Infections

Fungal nails are often resistant to treatment. To win the fight against toenail fungus, contact Ankle & Foot of Edmonds today and schedule an appointment.

Contact Ankle & Foot of Edmonds to schedule an appointment for Fungal Toenail

We have convenient hours and always have a doctor on call for emergencies. Call us today at (425) 775-6996 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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