Do You Have Toenail Fungus?: Symptoms and Diagnosis

So, how do you know if you have toenail fungus? It starts as a yellow or white spot under the tip of your nail and it can spread deeper into the bed of your nail, causing your nail to look:

  • Thick
  • Brittle
  • Discolored - brownish, yellowish, patchy
  • Flat and dull
  • Ragged or crumbly
  • Distorted in shape

If the fungus infection has been in the nail for a while, it may start to crumble and fall off. Fungal infection can also cause the nail to separate from the nail bed, causing pain. Thick, overgrown nails can cause pain when wearing shoes. You may also notice foul smelling "toe jam" accumulate under the nail and along its edge.

If not treated, toenail fungus can cause permanent damage to the nail, ingrown nails, and the fungus can spread to other nails and the skin around the nail, a condition called paronychia. If you notice any symptoms of nail fungus on your toenails or fingernails, talk to your doctor. He or she will examine the affected nail and take a small sample for closer examination under a microscope. This will reveal any fungi or other type of infection if one existed within the nail. Appropriate treatment steps may then be taken.