A few tips on how to identify fungus on toenails and not confuse it with another disease

A third of people in the world have layering and crumbling of the nails, opacity of the plate.

This disease is called onychomycosis or nail fungus. It can start at any age, spreads instantly, and adapts well to different conditions.

Healthy nails (left) and those affected by fungus (right)

Reasons for the formation of onychomycosis

Getting infected with a fungus is pretty easy. The infection can be found inpublic showers, beaches and swimming pools.There is a high risk of getting onychomycosis from infected loved ones and relatives if household items are used together.

There are the following prerequisites provoking the pathogen to enter the body, in short, the causes of the appearance of the fungus:

  • small skin lesions on the feet (calluses, calluses, small cracks and abrasions) that occur due to tight shoes;
  • weak immunity due to inflammatory and infectious diseases;
  • vascular disorders, impaired functioning of internal organs, leading to impaired blood circulation in the legs;
  • violation of safety precautions, i. e. going to public places without shoes, poor foot hygiene, trying on someone else's shoes;
  • ignoring the heavy sweating and diaper rash of the legs.


Onychomycosis starts on the thumb and later the virus can develop on the little finger.

What diseases can serve as a prerequisite?

The risk group includes people whose skin does not breathe due to tight shoes during the day. These include representatives of working specialties.

There are the following diseases that can serve as a prerequisite:

  • diabetes mellitus I and II groups;
  • phlebeurism;
  • foot deformity;
  • obstruction and blockage of blood vessels.

Today, various creams and varnishes are often offered for treatment, however, they will be useless, since the cause may be internal ailments.

Types of infection

A sign of mycosis is darkening of the nail plate

In total there are more than half a thousand species of mushroomsbringing trouble. There is no single classification.

The only thing is that there are two important signs by which the disease is distinguished. This is the localization and type of pathogen.


The infection can be anywhere on the nail and this is the main symptom of the disease. Externally, the affected plaque changes depending on the localization of the virus.

Type of pathogen

There are several causative agents of the disease, each of which has its own distinctive features. These are important to consider when developing a treatment plan. The most common pathogens are:

  • Dermatophytes- this is red trichophyton and mentagrophytes, flaky epidermophyton and so on. When infected with such mushrooms, yellowish or grayish spots form, the remaining parts of the plate become cloudy, and the free edge changes its shade. In general, the entire surface changes and eventually moves away from the bed.
  • Molds. This type is relatively harmless. It does not penetrate into the deep layers of the nails, therefore it only changes the plates to a dark, marshy, gray, yellowish, brownish color. Such a nuance can affect the surface both partially and entirely.
  • Yeasts of the genus Candida. They thin the nail and contribute to its exfoliation. Often, due to this pathogen, a white form of the disease is formed, which is characterized by inflammation of the cuticle. They can cause severe pain and purulent discharge may be observed. If left untreated, the nail will become thinner, turn brown, and drift away from the bed completely.

Places of localization of the disease on the arms, legs

The main forms of onychomycosis:

  1. Lateral.There is a nail infection on the sides. Its color becomes gray, yellowed and brownish. The plate begins to become cloudy, crumble and exfoliate.
  2. distal.This is the most common type of mushroom. The infection starts from the free edge of the nail. The plate changes color to yellow, brown or gray. Over time, the loss increases. Delamination, crumbling and clouding begin on the plate. In this case, hyperkeratosis appears under the nails, and if the entire nail is affected, tissue dystrophy is formed.
  3. Proximal.This form involves damage to the cuticle, which swells, becomes inflamed, reddens and changes its shape and structure. As a result, the roller separates from the plate and the nail crumbles, fades and becomes deformed. With a neglected disease, the plate can completely fall apart.
  4. White surface.It appears, as a rule, on the thumb, on others - occasionally. Outwardly, it manifests itself in the form of white spots that are located on the entire surface of the nail. Further, the disease progresses and spreads to keratinized tissues. The spots can change color, from milky to green or yellow. The structure of the dish is made spongy and loose. If this form is not treated, the nail can collapse completely.
  5. The dystrophy is total.Covers the entire nail surface. This is an advanced degree of distal or proximal fungus. The plate becomes thick, changes its shape to an unnatural shape and eventually deteriorates completely.

Photo of mycosis on nails

Normal nails (left) and with manifestations of onychomycosis (right)Nail fungus starts on the big toeThickening of toenails with onychomycosisadvanced stage of toenail fungus

Symptoms of mycosis

After an infection has occurred, the fungus needs time to settle down. First, the disease affects the big toes, destroying the nail plate. The damage is manifested by signs such as:

  • Thickening.The plate becomes thicker due to strong keratinization. In advanced cases, this significantly complicates the treatment.
  • Hue change.In a healthy state, the nail is translucent, and translucent capillaries give a pink color. And the infected changes its hue to black, brown and yellow. A space is formed under the plate in which microbes and other pathogens develop.
  • dilapidated.With incomplete treatment or its absence, the fungus begins to penetrate deeper layers of the plate. As a result, it crumbles and collapses. If you do not carry out the therapy, the onychomycosis becomes chronic. Because of this, the immune system weakens, allergies begin, and problems with internal organs begin.

How to independently determine, recognize the disease?

One of the symptoms of onychomycosis is detachment of the nail plate.

The fungus affects one leg first, then the infection moves to the second. There is no need to delay with this disease, if you yourself doubt and cannot determine the virus, be sure to consult a doctor.

You can diagnose it yourself at home using certain methods.

Find out with potassium permanganate

There is an express method that involves immersing the feet in a solution of potassium permanganate. At the same time, potassium permanganate colors healthy nails brown, and infected ones remain light.

This procedure is simple and does not take much time. A little potassium permanganate is added to a bowl of warm water. The solution shouldn't be strong. Feet or hands are placed in the liquid and wait about 10 minutes. This method is completely harmless. It can not be used only if there are allergic reactions to potassium permanganate.

Detect with iodine

Iodine is also often used to identify nail fungus. But it does not indicate the presence of pathogens. It can help eliminate other fungi, such as pityriasis versicolor.

When redness and peeling appear on the skin near the nail, they are treated with iodine. Healthy skin does not darken under an alcohol solution, and the lichen-affected area will become very dark in color.

How to diagnose?

Today, various effective diagnostic methods are offered, probably the most reliable way is to carry out tests for nail fungus:

  • Microbiological diagnostics.Microscopy is the most commonly used method for detecting fungi and determining their type. It allows you to detect the infection only in the structure of the nail plate or skin tissues. Taking a biomaterial involves scraping the infected cells from the area where the pathogen is located.

    In the final and intermediate stages, mycelial spores, yeast cells and mycelial filaments are found in the samples. Such diagnostics allows you to establish the accumulation and type of pathogen. The procedure itself lasts from 2 days to a month.

  • Linked immunosorbent assay. Such an analysis is designed to identify fungi that have affected both the nail and internal organs. Its difference is that venous blood is needed to detect the disease, which is taken in the morning or 4 hours after eating. No special preparation is required for the analysis.
  • PCR tests.Polymerase chain reaction is the best diagnostic method for infectious diseases. It has a number of advantages, such as speed, greater accuracy and the ability to take any tissue sample. A feature of the method is considered a narrow focus. That is, for the diagnosis of onychomycosis it is necessary to know exactly the place of localization. A PCR test can reveal both the type of mushroom and its concentration in the body.
  • Luminescent study. Such a diagnosis is based on transillumination of skin affected by pathological microflora with an ultraviolet lamp. When examining a patient, a Wood's lamp is used, which emits ultraviolet rays. Thanks to her, the products of vital activity begin to glow brightly. The type of pathogen affects the shade of the glow.

How to distinguish mycosis from bruises and other diseases?

With a fungus, the nails have a yellow tint and begin to crumble.

At first, onychomycosis is easily confused with other diseases, such as lichen, nail bruising or psoriasis.

It is distinguished by the darkening of the nail plate, the formation of yellow spots and streaks, which over time increase and penetrate deep into the nail.

Compared with psoriasis, onychomycosis develops smoothly. Gradually warp the plate so that it detaches from the bed. It is distinguished from lesions, psoriasis, lichens and eczema by the presence of pain and bad smell.

Hygiene standards

The best remedy for fungi is prevention. Simple precautions can help prevent infection. First of all, they are needed by people who visit beaches, public pools, saunas and so on. In such places, you should always use individual towels and wear light slates.

If your feet sweat a lot, then you need to treat them with special means, of which there are a lot today. It is not recommended to wear too tight shoes or use someone else's. When trying on shoes in the store, you should wear shoe covers or socks. Be sure to monitor the hygiene of your feet and hands and dry them after washing.

When one of the family members gets infected with the fungus, she should have a separate washcloth and towel. After visiting the toilet, it must be treated with antimicrobial agents. The patient's washcloth should be treated regularly with 5% chloramine solution, and clothes and towels should be boiled with washing powder.

If an infection is suspected, the legs or arms should be immersed in warm water and held for about 10 minutes. The fungus dies quickly enough at a temperature of +50 ° C. Then these places are smeared with an antifungal ointment.


Onychomycosis is an insidious and unpleasant disease, so it's important to monitor your toenails and fingernails and make sure you follow preventative measures. If there are any suspicious symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible and start treatment.