Posted on by Catherine Omondi

In the grand scheme of health concerns, toenail fungus might not be the most dramatic. However, it can be a sneaky disease, lurking beneath the surface and wreaking havoc on your nails. If you ignore it for a long time, toenail fungus can cause permanent nail damage. But fear not! Recognizing the early signs of toenail fungus is your ticket to effective toenail fungus treatment to prevent further complications.

If you glance at your toes and something seems off, look closer. They could be a little discolored or have a faint odor lingering around them. These symptoms may be your body’s way of raising a red flag to let you know there’s a problem. The following are the 6 signs that may indicate your toes may be harboring nail fungus:

  1. Discoloration
  2. Thickening
  3. Odor
  4. Brittleness
  5. Separation
  6. Pain or discomfort

Let’s discuss each of these signs in detail.

1.    Discoloration

One of the first signs of a nail fungus infection is discoloration. Instead of their usual shade, your nails may be yellow, white, brown, or black. Ordinarily, your nails maintain their natural color. However, when nail fungus attacks, it comes with its own pigments, turning your nails into a different hue. When you notice such colors, it’s time to get some OTC toenail fungus treatment before the situation gets worse.

2.    Thickening

Another telltale sign that nail fungus is making itself at home in your toes is thickening. The fungus turns your toenails into bulky and distorted versions of their former selves. This can make them very challenging to trim.

Why does this happen? When nail fungus infiltrates the nail bed, it disrupts the normal nail structure. This causes the nail to thicken and take on irregular shapes.

3.    Odor

This is one of the not-so-pleasant signs that nail fungus is causing a stink on your toes. It is usually characterized by a faint or sometimes pungent smell emanating from the infected nail. The odor is often described as musty, funky, or even sour.

This happens because nail fungus breaks down keratin in the nail. Keratin is the protein that makes up your nails. When the keratin breaks down, it releases byproducts that produce an unpleasant smell. If you’re catching a whiff of something funky emanating from your toes, it may be time to get treatment for nail fungus.

4.    Brittleness

Nail brittleness is another sign that your toes may be infected by nail fungus. If you try to trim your nails, and instead of neatly cutting, they crumble like a cookie, this could be a sign that you have nail fungus. This is because nail fungus messes with the structure of your nails and makes them more delicate. This leaves them prone to crumbling and breaking with minimal effort.

5.    Separation

If you inspect your toes and notice that the nail looks like it’s pulling away from the nail bed, this is a sign you might have toenail fungus. It usually looks like there’s a gap between your nail and the nail bed. When nail fungus settles in your nail bed, it messes with the bonds that hold your nail in place. You’ll notice a space developing between the nail and the skin. It is not a pretty sight, but it clearly indicates that nail fungus might be causing some mischief.

6.    Pain or discomfort

Unlike other signs that may be subtle, pain and discomfort are hard to ignore. So, what does this pain feel like? Well, it can vary from person to person but is often described as a dull ache or throbbing sensation in the affected toe. Sometimes, the pain is constant, while other times, it comes and goes, popping up when you least expect it. The pain can worsen when you walk or stand for long periods, putting pressure on your toes.

But why does nail fungus lead to pain and discomfort in the first place? The nail fungus affects your nail bed, and as it digs deeper, it can irritate the surrounding tissues and nerves, causing pain and discomfort. If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort, especially in combination with any of the other signs we’ve discussed, consider nail fungus treatment to fix your toe troubles.

Nail fungus treatment to help you fight the infection

Now that you know the signs of toenail fungus, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and tackle the problem head-on. Remember, the first step is recognizing the symptoms and taking action.

So, what can you do to kick nail fungus to the curb? The first treatment option is at-home remedies, like vinegar soaks or tea tree oil. These natural remedies may offer some relief, but you must weigh their effectiveness and stick with proper foot hygiene practices.

However, if you want a more robust solution, non-prescription toenail fungus treatments might be your best bet. Just ensure you follow the instructions diligently and be consistent and patient with your treatment. Keeping your feet clean and dry and regularly trimming and filing your nails can help prevent the fungus from regrowing.

If the nail fungus has already dug its heels in deep, it might be time to call in the professionals. Your doctor can prescribe medication to tackle severe infections or even recommend laser therapy for nail fungus. These treatments can be more potent and targeted, helping to eliminate the fungus once and for all.

Whether you’re opting for DIY remedies or seeking professional help, the key is to stay consistent and patient. With the right approach and a little perseverance, you’ll be saying goodbye to nail fungus and hello to healthier toes in no time.


Being in the know about nail fungus treatments will help you tackle the problem before it gets worse. By keeping an eye out for those sneaky symptoms and regularly inspecting your feet, you’re taking proactive steps to catch nail fungus in its tracks. Remember, early detection is essential. Don’t brush off those subtle hints your toes may be dropping. It’s also important to seek early treatment. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to treat the nail fungus. If you suspect you may have a toenail fungus infection, don’t delay. Get medication or reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance and support. Here’s to staying one step ahead of nail fungus to ensure happy and healthy feet.