The Signs of Toenail Fungus: Do You know if Your Feet Are Infected?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

tired feetNo one likes the looks of ugly toenail fungus. Brittle, distorted and discolored toenails can be the source of major insecurity for many people, as well as a real hassle to get rid of. This form of fungus can be extremely difficult to treat, as oftentimes several forms of fungus are present in the infected toenail simultaneously.

Let’s start by defining toenail fungus, listing its major causes and symptoms, as well as information on how you can naturally and effectively fight these types of infections.

What Is Toenail Fungus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is classified as an infection that occurs when a fungus finds its home in the toenails [1]. The fungal presence may appear as a white or yellow spot on the nail (it can also occur on fingernails, although is less common). If left untreated, the spot grows larger and the nail begins to deteriorate, leaving a crumbling, thick, painful, discolored nail behind.

Signs of Toenail Fungus

The most common signs of toenail fungus are usually visually and painfully obvious. These symptoms may include:

  • Thickened nails
  • Foul odor in the nail
  • Dull color in nail, lack of the “usual shine”
  • A separation of the nail from the nail bed (onycholysis)
  • Dry, crumbly or brittle texture to nails
  • Distortion in the shape of the nail
  • Distortion in color of the nail, either a darker or lighter than normal
  • Pain in the infected nail

Causes of Toenail Fungus

Microscopic fungi can find their way into the toenails under a variety of different circumstances. Usually, nail fungal infections occur when a type of fungus called a dermatophyte inhabits the nail. They can also be caused by a general mold or yeast infection in the toenail. Whether fungus, mold or yeast, all of these infections are created in warm, wet environments.

Places such as gyms, locker-rooms, hot-tubs, saunas, steam-rooms, swimming pools and showers, are hot-beds for these types of fungal infections. Just walking barefoot can cause you to get a fungal infection.

The dark warmth of your shoes and socks, particularly if you are sweating in your shoes, is also the perfect breeding ground for fungal infections. People are particularly vulnerable to fungal infections when they have tiny cuts between the nail and nail bed, as this opens the area up for the fungus to thrive. Toes are more vulnerable to infection than fingernails because of a lack of circulation in the area, as compared to the hands.

Who is at Risk for Toenail Fungus?

Anyone can get a toenail fungal infection, but older adults are more at risk due to a greater lack of blood circulation to the feet. What is more, as we age, our nails begin to thicken, making us more susceptible to fungal invasion. Men are more at risk than women, and the tendency can be passed on genetically.

Risk factors that increase the likelihood for nail fungus may also include diabetes, trauma to the nail, poor personal hygiene, athlete’s foot, hyperhydrosis, peripheral vascular disease, continual exposure to water and conditions involving immunodeficiency.

Natural Remedies & Tips For Nail Fungus

  • Make sure to change socks and shoes immediately after exercising
  • Wear flip-flops in any public locker-room, in the sauna and pool-side
  • If possible, do not wear shoes that prevent ventilation of the feet
  • Buy organic cotton or hemp socks that readily absorb sweat
  • Never walk barefoot in wet public places
  • Treat athlete’s foot immediately, as the two conditions are linked
  • Exercise to increase blood circulation to the toes, as your body’s immune system will be better equipped to detect and eliminate any in-coming infections
  • Keep the feet and toes well-cleaned
  • Try soaking your toenails in 32 ounces of water with 3 ounces of organic apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup himalayan salt for 15 minutes daily
  • Mixing organic tee tree oil with oregano oil and applying 1 drop to toenails before bed has been shown to work well.
  • Mix 1 drop of 35% Food grade Hydrogen peroxide with 6 drops of distilled water, 3 drops of organic apple cider vinegar and 1 drop of DMSO. Apply to infected nails in the morning and before bed. This may burn slightly but seems to be one of the best and fastest remedies.

Supplements That Help Treat Toenail Fungus

While treating toenail fungus with the tips above, I would also recommend taking an herbal supplement called Mycozil™ at the same time. This all-natural product will help kill off the fungus circulating in the blood, that may be contributing to your infection.

Mycozil will help treat toenail fungus internally, while the tips above will help treat toenail fungus externally.

Do you see signs of toenail fungus on your feet? Be sure to let me know your results and feel free to post any other successful remedies you have used.

References (1)
  1. John J. Swierzewski D.P.M., Stanley J. Swierzewski III M.D. Fungal Nail Infection (Onychomycosis) Overview. 2000 Januray 1.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Patrick Kallie

    I had this problem before when I ran in the same shoes for so long. Always make sure that you buy new shoe every couple of months if you are an avid runner.

  • Paul Cummesky

    I had a bright purple big toenail for 3-4 years,,stumbled across reading about Vitamin D Deficiency to help my immune system and flu season.
    I am 6 feet and and a heavy 300 pounds,, and found out my Vitamin D level was low from a blood test,
    Started taking 10000 I.U. a day,,after a few days life was better, then about 4 weeks later ,I looked down and noticed my toenail fungus was 95% gone..
    I have no other reason to give the success to…I am a new believer in Vitamin D

  • Jan Goff

    I had ,what I believed to be toenail fungus, under my big toenail. It looked whiter in color and it was pulled away from my nail bed. The only thing I did was use my far infrared sauna on a regular basis and it cleared up.

  • Meg

    I also had some toenail fungus, found out my vit D was insufficient (29) and started taking 4000 IU per day about 22 days ago (now my NPA prescribed 8000).

    Anyways, I just cleaned off the nail polish from my toes and clipped them and found my nail fungus is almost gone – certainly the patches of discoloration on the nail bed are gone, and the nail pieces that I took off had some crumbling but far less than before.

    Maybe a few more weeks and that will be gone too.

    It also cleared up my acne about 95%.

  • Susan Barrow

    i’ve battled nail fungus for years – not too fun or pretty, especially for a woman. maybe i’ll give this a shot.

  • John

    What do you mean by ‘thickened nails’? It’s one of the symptoms listed. Thanks

  • Julia Summer

    i say i’ve been taking that supplement since i had toenail fungus. i think it helps maintain a fungus free lifestyle. but i have to give kudos to ZeroFungus, the cream that really made my toenail fungus disappear for like, forever! the nail started to look normal again in just 2 weeks, ZeroFungus is amazing! you can google it if you’re unfamiliar with it, i highly recommend it for toenail fungus!

  • CM

    My right big toe nail have had a fungus under it for a few years now. What can I do to cue this fungus

  • MGM

    In getting bumps on the bottom of my toe; it’s very itchy as well. Am I getting fungus?

  • bazinga-nator

    you look like eddie murphy, only with an even bigger (if that’s possible) mouth.

  • Girl

    I took 10 days of Diflucan to treat a painful yeast infection on my nipples due to breastfeeding. As a side effect, it cured the toenail fungus that I had for 8 years on my big toe.

  • Maria Carrillo

    What an extremely useful blog! I love the references to conventional sources as well. I’ve not had toenail fungus, but had something a little funky on my toe and decided to google, then found this page. A stroke of luck, literally. Fantastic references and sources, and no heeby geeby snakeoil stuff. Great resource that I now have saved forever and ever in my favorites.

  • ghc_health

    Thanks for the feedback Maria!

  • Caroline

    Great information! I have been suffering for many years and have tried many natural cures that haven’t cured, so I like the idea of the internal and external treatment. Makes sense to me and will give this a shot.

  • Please update us of your progress!

  • Lona Leis

    All of my nails fingers and toes are pale at the bed and pink on the ends. They are all the same depth. Is this a nail fungus?

  • Hard to say, it doesn’t sound like fungus.

  • Jose

    For some months I have had a purple spot near the end of my cuticle and it has been growing as the nail has grown. How can I treat this infection? I have also been clipping off the end of the nail as it has been separating from the bed of the nail.

  • Are you sure it’s an infection? Sounds more like the effects of smashing your thumb.

  • Rose Comer

    In the section natural remedies last one you refer to DMSO? What is that?

  • JMD

    I had my left big toe nail get to where it came away from the nail bed so I cut it back and removed as much as I could. It kind of looks like a new nail is trying to grow but I have some purplish color still in the middle of my toe. I also have about 1/4 of my nail on the right side still attached and am now hoping it will eventually be able to be removed. Any ideas on how to treat this at this point…have I left it too long? I believe I was told several years ago to put tea tree oil under the nail but now it’s too late for that. It also looks like my right big toe may also end up like this as it has a bit of purplish color on one side. Thanks for any assistance/info you can offer.

  • jeanel

    My left, and right big toe has a big light brown spot in the middle of my toe bed that hurts,what’s wrong with my toes please help!!!!!!

  • Hard to say, you better get them looked at though!

  • Irma

    My left big toe seems to be the only problem. It’s itchy on the skin all around the nail and I’ve noticed that from the cuticle to about halfway up the nail it’s deteriorating. Is this fungus? I don’t know what to do.

  • Just some food for thought, have you tried any natural remedies?

  • Alyssa

    I have bumps on my middle and second toe and it itches and I put alot of meds on it it will not go away it also stings so much

  • Alyssa

    Im a kid and I have toe or foot fungus

  • m3twin

    How much hydrogen peroxide would you use if using 3% when using this recipe?:

    Mix 1 drop of 35% Food grade Hydrogen peroxide with 6 drops of distilled water, 3 drops of organic apple cider vinegar and 1 drop of DMSO. Apply to infected nails in the morning and before bed. This may burn slightly but seems to be one of the best and fastest remedies.

  • It’s roughly a tenth as strong so roughly 10 times as much.

  • John Smith

    Chew off yur big ugly toe.

  • Quan Williams

    I have had athletes foot b4. I used a topical ointment for about a month to cure it. Although it never healed all the way. I’ve been battling this white HUGE CHUNCK of FUNGI. on my sides of both my feet for as far back as I remember. I’ve been using the topical ointment for it. Although it is taking too long. I need to know how may I cure this CHUNCK of FUNGI. fast and nicely. PS. I’ve been looking everywhere for answers. But I see very willing guidance here. Also my vitamin intake is mainly vitamin c. I barely eat anything. So I will starting 2day. Eat the vitamin d. To see as how good this can help.

  • Quan Williams

    Oh correction. *sides of both my big toes not feet.

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  • bm

    I had an infection in my right big toe. I got it treated and then it was fine. But now its getting thick black and falling off. What should I do? What do you think it is?

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  • yoyo

    Hi, I’m having achy pain in my little toenail when my toenail began to grow

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  • Charlotte Goode

    What is DMSO?

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