Are Toenails an Indicator of Overall Health?

Toenails serve as barometers of health; they can be the initial signal of the presence of systemic diseases. Any toenail discoloration or infection on or about the nail should be evaluated by one of our doctors.

Toenails Fungus Causes

Onychomycosis the medical term for a fungal infection. The infection is caused by fungi and lives underneath the surface of the nail. When the fungi appear, the nail darkens in color and can smell. If ignored, the infection can cause pain and impairs one’s ability to walk. The nails become thicker,become difficult to trim, and walking becomes painful. Those who suffer from diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-compromised conditions, are especially at risk for fungal nails.

Toenail Fungus Symptoms 

Nail infection can cause permanent deformity of the nail, which can interfere with your being able to wear shoes, walking, sports, and other activities. Infected nails often show one or more of the following signs:

  • Yellow streaks in the skin under the nail, or nail bed, and on the underside of the nail
  • Buildup of bits and pieces of skin and nail fragments under the nail
  • Discolored and thickened nail that may separate from the skin under the nail
  • Brittle, broken, and thickened nails
  • White spots or streaks on the nail surface
  • Soft and powdery nail surface, which appear as the infection worsens
  • Damaged, crumbly, and brown or gray nail surface, with no separation of the nail from the underlying skin

Treatment Options for Toenails 

Treatments can vary, depending on the severity of the fungal infection in one’s toenails. Our podiatric physicians can develop anappropriate treatment plan for you, and may include:

  • Prescribing topical medications
  • Prescribing oral medications
  • Debridement (removal of infected nail) of an infected nail
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