Green Spots

Garden Variety

Toenail fungus is so common that any discoloration seen on the toenail is suspected of being the garden variety fungus we all know and hate. Yet, there are many conditions that begin with a discoloration of the toenail. It's important to obtain a correct diagnosis and not to give automatic treatment with an antifungal preparation, since the problem might be altogether different.

Take green spots, for instance. Green spots have nothing to do with fungus, and everything to do with a pseudomonas bacterial infection. This infection causes the spots on the nail to change colors in stages, from yellow, to green, to brown, then black. As the bacteria invade the layers of nail plate, the color deepens.

Clean and Dry

First things first: antifungal toenail drops aren't going to do any good for your bacterial infection. The best cure for this type of infection is to keep the nail clean and dry. Alcohol has a drying effect and can be helpful in drying out the area so bacteria can't grow.

The use of nail polish is asking for trouble, even clear polish, since this allows the moisture contained within the nail bed to build up in the nail plate. It's this type of moisture that feeds the pseudomonas bacterium. It's hard to cure pseudomonas infections in toenails, because this is an area that tends to suck up moisture.

It's much easier to get rid of pseudomonas in a fingernail, which has more exposure to air. But, the bacteria can become trapped between your nail plate and nail bed if you wear polish. You can give a light buffing to your unpolished nails, to open up the nail cells. After this, rub on some alcohol every day for one week, twice a day, and after every time you find your hands in water (washing dishes, taking a bath or shower).

Be aware that this type of infection is often contracted when a nail technician doesn't use proper sanitation methods for manicures and pedicures. Best practice indicates that technicians sterilize the instruments used and clean workspaces between clients. Many states regulate nail salon hygiene, so look to see if the place you frequent is board certified.

As for the stain on your fingernail or toenail, you will have to be patient and wait for it to grow out. You can try applying a thymol solution, made from the herb thyme, which has both antiseptic and drying properties. But if you can't get thymol, it's fine to stick with alcohol.

It's important to remember that the nail will change colors as it goes through the various stages of the infection, so if one nail is yellow, and another brown, this only signifies that you contracted the infections at two different times. Don't be alarmed to see the spot turning darker and darker until it blackens. This is the normal progression of the pseudomonas bacterium in nails.