The first signs of nail fungus on the toes. The first symptoms of toenail fungus

According to statistics, almost half of all visits to the dermatologist are, in one way or another, related to fungal diseases. You can get an infection when you visit a swimming pool, sauna, go to the beach or walk in your host's slippers. Learn all about how to recognize toenail fungus without scraping or using other diagnostic methods - symptoms of onychomycosis in the initial and chronic stages of the disease.

What is toenail fungus

Leavened mushrooms

They are in second place in the frequency of onset of foot mycosis. The disease is caused by two types of pathogens of the Candida genus:

  • White candida (Candida albicans) - occurs most often on the fingers, as a complication of existing onychomycosis caused by dermatophytes.
  • Parapsilosis (Candida parapsilosis) - affects the nail plate from the edge. The initial symptoms are characterized by the appearance of black spots on the tip of the finger, which gradually increase in size. Candida parapsilosis often completely destroys the nail plate.


This type of fungal infection is not particularly common: only three patients who sought help from a dermatologist suffered from it. There are several types of mold pathogens:

  • Scopulariopsis: Often infects big toes that have been previously injured.
  • Aspergillus or black mold - onychomycosis infection is possible only for people with reduced immunity. The main symptom of the disease is the deformation of the nails and the appearance of normotrophic blackheads.
  • Fusarium - this onychomycosis is very rare, since the pathogens live on agricultural crops. Infection of a person is possible only if there are open wounds, abrasions or cracks on the legs.


The primacy among the causative agents of onychomycosis is occupied by dermatophytes, of which the feet most often affect:

  • Red trichophyton (Trichophyton rubrum) - develops on the lateral and distal surface. The main symptoms in the initial stages of development are yellow spots or white streaks. Without specific treatment, fungal spores can spread throughout the body and cause serious skin lesions.
  • Mentagrophytes (Trichophyton mentagrophytes) – cracks appear in the interdigital spaces, severe pain during movement. Without adequate therapy, the fungus spreads to the nails; the fungus can mainly affect the thumb and little finger.
  • Epidermophyton floccosum: in the initial phase it affects the skin of the fingers. Toenail fungus manifests itself in the form of peeling of the feet, accompanied by itching and increased sweating of the toes. Without treatment, epidermophyton leads to atrophy.

What does toenail fungus look like?

Today in medicine, two classifications of onychomycosis are used: the first - according to the type of pathological changes, and the second - according to the location. Based on the type of fungal infections, all types are divided into four subtypes: marginal, normotrophic, hypertrophic and atrophic. According to the form of localization, there are many other types of diseases:

  • distal – when only the edge is affected by the fungus;
  • lateral: pathological processes begin near the skin ridges;
  • proximal – the change affects the lower part;
  • white superficial onychomycosis: white spots or streaks appear.

Regional onychomycosis

This is the initial stage of the fungus, which is very difficult to identify on your own. This type of mycosis is accompanied by changes in the edge of the nail plate, visualized by the appearance of narrow gray stripes. Over time, the symptoms of toenail fungus intensify: the color begins to fade, brittleness appears, while the thickness of the plaque remains the same. Sometimes grey-yellow spots may appear.


This type of onychomycosis manifests itself with a decrease in shine, but with preservation of the thickness of the hard part of the finger. The main symptoms of the normotrophic type are:

  • increased fragility;
  • loss of shine;
  • the appearance of white or gray-yellow spots on the entire surface of the nail;
  • the bed is visually divided into sectors;
  • Gray mucus gradually begins to ooze from under the nail.
fungal nail disease


This has a specific symptom: the formation of atrophy along the edge. Hypertrophy leads to thickening of the nail plate and the appearance of an atypical pattern. Patients often complain of pain, especially when walking, which disappears only after taking painkillers. Hypertrophic mycosis has three phases:

  • Total: a massive lesion affecting the thickness of the nail plate.
  • Lateral: appears on the lateral parts.
  • Distal: the infection is located under the free part of the bed.

White surface form

This type of fungal infection is characterized by the appearance of small foci of infection in the center or on the edge of the nails, white or almost white. This type of onychomycosis appears only on the legs. Due to the fact that the spores affect only the upper part of the finger, the plaque itself is very rarely deformed, but its upper layers and epidermis suffer from the fungus. If left untreated, the hard part becomes loose and rough. As a rule, superficial onychomycosis is caused by dermatophytes.


Accompanied by detachment of part of the plaque from the soft nail bed. The affected nail becomes dull with gray spots and gradually loses its shine. As a rule, this type of fungus manifests itself as a complication of hypertrophic or normotrophic mycosis. In the absence of adequate treatment, areas covered with hyperkeratosis may appear at the site of the lesion.

Candida onychomycosis

Often combined with damage to healthy periungual tissues. The pathology usually occurs on the 3rd or 4th finger or toe. Candida mycosis is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • lack of skin on the growth line of the nails;
  • fragility and crumbling of the edges of the plate;
  • the appearance of transverse stripes at the base of the bed;
  • inflammation of the skin ridges;
  • brown-brown color of the nail plate;
  • soft tissue pain.

Proximal deformation

One of the rarest forms of onychomycosis. The disease often begins to develop from the soft tissue, gradually moving to a healthy nail. Fungal growth starts from the middle of the nail. Without treatment, the plates change color, begin to crumble and peel off. The causative agents of the proximal deforming form are: red trichophyton and mentagrophytes.


This form of the unpleasant disease is characterized by a change from normal color to brownish-gray. In this case, the symptoms appear gradually: first the plaque loses its shine and becomes dull, then the nail is destroyed and loose accumulations of small skin flakes are visible instead of the bed. Pathological processes begin from the outside, eventually covering the growth zone and skin fold.

types of fungal infections

Types and stages of fungal infection

Signs of fungal infection depend on the form of the disease and its severity. The first signs of pathology may not be noticed, but already on average the plaque is noticeably deformed, becomes thick, and its structure is heterogeneous. Such signs cannot be ignored, since the next stage is dystrophic, the nail can completely collapse, inflammatory processes begin in the periungual ridges, and secondary infection occurs.

Main forms of the disease:

  1. Lateral onychomycosis is the most common type of fungus. The first signs of fungus appear on the free edge of the nail in the form of a small yellowish spot. As the disease progresses, the plaque thickens, deep cracks may form on it, and discomfort occurs when walking. This form of fungal pathology is difficult to treat.
  2. White superficial onychomycosis: pathogenic microorganisms affect only the upper layers of the nail. The plate does not thicken, but over time it loosens and resembles chalk in structure. Treatment is not difficult and improvement in well-being occurs quickly.
  3. Subungual onychomycosis is a rare form of pathology. Symptoms of the fungus appear in the form of thickening of the skin in the nail fold area, the nail becomes completely white and dull.

There are numerous diseases that have symptoms similar to fungal infection: psoriasis, eczema, lichen planus. Changes in the structure of the nail occur after injuries or bruises. Only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis after a thorough diagnosis.

toenail fungus symptoms

How to identify fungus on toenails - common symptoms

Depending on the stage of the disease, complete atrophy and partial hypertrophy are distinguished, and both concepts are related, but are not synonymous. The atrophic type refers to reduced growth, thinning and complete destruction of the nail plate - this is the stage of total damage. Often, when an advanced stage is detected, patients complain to the dermatologist not only about changes in structure, but also about severe pain.

Hypertrophic toenail fungus - symptoms:

  • acquires a yellow tint along the edge of the plate or whitish inclusions appear near the growth zone;
  • deformed: waves, tubercles and other irregularities appear;
  • the cushion turns red, peels and swells as the infection grows;
  • begins to exfoliate, move away from bed;
  • Small cracks and sometimes blisters appear between the toes.

Itching and burning

Most often the disease manifests itself on the legs in the form of severe itching. This sensation begins to disturb the patient from the first days after the infection. If fungal spores attack the plaque, itching is felt around the affected area, while the skin becomes flaccid, dry and flaky and irritation appears. If the infection started from the soft tissues, the fingers themselves itch. When the skin is severely scratched, itching is followed by a burning sensation. As a rule, these symptoms occur with lesions of the feet, less often with onychomycosis of the hands.

Loss of natural color

This is the next symptom of onychomycosis, which replaces or complements itching. In this case, the color will depend on the type of pathogen that has settled in the human body:

Once inside the fingers, fungal spores begin to actively multiply and gradually cover the entire space, slowly leading to complete deformation and destruction of its hard part. The plate thickens or, conversely, becomes very thin, begins to crumble, and an unnatural yellowness and whitish coating are noticeable. In the initial stages of the infection, the very structure of the nail plate changes: it becomes lumpy or covered with stripes, and the shade of the plate becomes cloudy.

Doctors distinguish three main phases of fungal infection:

  1. The color turns yellow and furrows appear. When you try to cut the edge, the tip starts to crumble. Sometimes an unpleasant odor may appear.
  2. The finger completely changed color, became dull and cloudy, and strange inclusions appeared. The yellow color begins to darken, black streaks appear, and green areas may appear. Cutting the affected nails becomes very difficult.
  3. The entire nail has changed: it has become much thicker, it is impossible to cut the edge without softening it.
pain in the nail area

Pain in the nail area

The discomfort caused by nail fungus is not a typical concept for every patient. Some patients may not feel such symptoms at all, especially if the disease was detected at an early stage. With an advanced form of fungal infection, it is easy to recognize the pathology: the fingers lose their original appearance, begin to flake and peel. At this stage, some patients may feel pain under the nail or in the fingers.

Painful sensations with mycosis of the toes can occur for several reasons:

  1. Due to the fact that the affected areas become thicker, they lose their original appearance and become deformed. In this case, even the most worn shoes cause significant discomfort when walking. As a result, pain can bother you not only during a walk, but also after taking off your shoes.
  2. As the spores spread, the fungus conquers more and more new territories. When penetrating the soft tissue of the nail, the infection often affects the nerve endings, causing aching, paroxysmal or throbbing pain. If you experience a symptom for this reason, discomfort may occur even at rest.
  3. One of the signs of mycosis on the feet is the appearance of small cracks and blisters between the toes. The skin may become very red and inflamed and the fingers may swell. Due to the fact that the area between the toes in closed shoes sweats a lot, such wounds on the feet heal very slowly and constantly hurt.

How does toenail fungus start?

Loss and change in color, appearance of irregularities, thinning or thickening of the plaque, delamination - these are the first signs of toenail fungus that fall under the general description. However, with careful self-diagnosis of the disease, it is possible to even classify it. For example:

  • Dermatophyte infection begins at the free edge of the plaque. The appearance of the fungus is indicated by a small yellow spot and a crumbling surface.
  • Yeast-like fungi are characterized by a proximal form, when the infection begins at the base. The main symptom of candidiasis-type onychomycosis is inflammation of the periungual fold, separation of the cuticle, pain when pressing.
  • The molds make your fingers green, brown, or black. The mold infection appears as spots, small dots, or longitudinal plaques.

The first signs of toenail mycosis are symptoms that appear on the adjacent soft tissues. The skin of the feet loses its natural color, turns red or yellow, becomes thin and is easily injured. As a rule, this is where the fungal process begins. Over time, the disease can cause serious inconvenience: cause the appearance of deep cracks, itching and blisters with liquid.

Symptoms of fungal nail infections

In the initial stage of infection, toenail fungus is almost invisible and does not cause any discomfort (see photo). Then the characteristic symptoms of fungal infection appear:

  • the surface of the nail plate on the toes acquires an unpleasant cloudy tint;
  • the nail plate begins to peel off, separating from the nail bed;
  • the diseased nail loses its original shape, thickening and acquiring an unkempt appearance;
  • cracks gradually form between the toes, the person begins to feel pain in the damaged nail area;
  • the skin on your toes begins to peel off;
  • Itchy skin appears between the toes.

Nail fungus must be treated, preferably in the early stages. In this case, you can get by only with external preparations: ointments, varnishes and folk remedies. In a more advanced form, you will have to take antifungal tablets, in which case you will not be able to quickly get rid of fungus on the feet.

What is dangerous in untreated onychomycosis?

In addition to the unpleasant external manifestations of this disease, the fungus is a pathogenic microbe that causes harm to the entire human body:

  • Nail fungus not treated in a timely manner opens the door to other infections.
  • Additionally, the fungus can act as an allergen and ultimately cause hypersensitivity to nail fungus as an allergen.
  • Onychomycosis complicates the course of many diseases, for example, diabetes.
  • In especially severe cases, against the background of a long course of the disease or reduced immunity, a fungal infection can cause deep mycosis - penetration of the fungus into internal organs through the blood.

To avoid complications, you need to start treatment quickly if you notice the first signs of fungal nail infection.

How to get rid of fungus on toenails?

Medicines used to treat nails affected by fungus are presented in two groups.

  1. The first group is represented by local means of influence. This group includes medicinal varnishes and detachable plasters, ointments, creams and gels. Most drugs for external use are effective only in the initial stage of the disease.
  2. The second group consists of systemic antifungal drugs taken orally. Usually these are capsules or tablets that have an inhibitory effect on the fungus. They stop the spread of mycosis and have a prolonged effect, which significantly reduces the possibility of the disease returning.

But considering that the drugs used to treat onychomycosis are highly toxic and often cause side effects, and that the clinical picture of fungal infections of the skin and nail plate of the toes is always strictly individual, it is better to give an answer to the question question about how to cure fungus on the feet from an experienced specialist.

Laser therapy

If the advanced form of the fungus cannot be treated with drugs, laser therapy can be used.

  1. Laser treatment of fungi is considered one of the most effective ways to get rid of this disease.
  2. Under the influence of the ray, fungal cells die instantly.
  3. The laser beam does not damage surrounding tissues.
  4. An advanced form of the fungus can be cured in just four laser therapy procedures.

Having decided to undergo laser treatment, it is also important to take all the necessary pills and vitamins at the same time.

Nail fungus treatment with laser

Pharmacological therapy of onychomycosis

The specialist prescribes treatment in the initial stages of nail fungus after taking into account some factors:

  • Degree of plate change;
  • Stages of hyperkeratosis;
  • Damaged area;
  • Clinical form of the pathology.

At the beginning of the development of the disease, the dermatologist prescribes local remedies. These include ointment, paint, solution, cream with antifungal (antifungal) properties. It is recommended to apply them after treating an infected nail. Preparatory actions improve the access of drugs inside the plate, thus accelerating fungal therapy.

To soften the nail you can use plasters containing urea or salicylic acid:

  1. Using a nail file, carefully process the nail plate;
  2. Apply an antifungal agent;
  3. Cover the nail with a bandage;
  4. Remove it after a day;
  5. Apply an antifungal remedy prescribed by a dermatologist.

The specialist most often prescribes only drugs for external use.


Systemic antifungal agents are not used for onychomycosis in the early stage of development.

Treat nail fungus at home

At the initial stage of the disease, you can try to use proven folk remedies at home.

  1. Apple cider vinegar. Simply soak your feet 1-2 times a day in a 1: 1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water for about 15-20 minutes. After soaking, let your toenails dry completely (you can use a hair dryer). And within about two weeks you will notice that the fungus disappears and a beautiful new one grows in place of the old damaged nail.
  2. Tea tree oil should be applied to the fungus-affected skin and nails three times a day. A single dose ranges from 4 to 10 drops of product. This treatment must be continued for at least two weeks, or even longer, to ensure that the infection does not return. This oil should not be used by children or pregnant women.
  3. Freshly harvested celandine is passed through a meat grinder and juice is squeezed out of the resulting pulp (this is done through 3-4 layers of gauze). It should yield approximately 200ml. juiceMatches 200 ml. 70% alcohol and leave to act for 24 hours. The prepared juice is used to lubricate the affected nails, but the treatment is carried out only after steaming the feet for 10 minutes and drying them completely. The course of treatment is 10-12 days, 3-4 treatments per day.
  4. Another way to get rid of nail fungus is to treat them at home with iodine. It's very simple. For three weeks, the nail plate is coated with iodine daily. In this case, the growing tip of the damaged nail is regularly removed.
  5. Kombucha will also help fight fungus. For this treatment, compresses are made: wrap a plate of kombucha in cellophane and wrap a bandage around the leg, then put on socks. In the morning you need to wash your feet with warm water, carefully remove dead zones and lubricate them with iodine. Side effects include quite intense pain, but you can get the desired result much faster.

If folk remedies do not give the desired result, you should contact specialists to prescribe complex therapy.

antifungal nail bath

Infection with pathogenic fungi occurs through contact and also through poor hygiene. Onychomycosis (nail plate fungus) is most often contracted through the use of shared shoes in everyday life, in gyms and other places with high humidity and temperature. The early stage of toenail fungus has some signs. Knowing them, it is possible to avoid the transition of pathology to another stage of development.

All folk remedies can be used only after consulting a dermatologist. Many of them can cause allergic reactions. It is easier to cure onychomycosis by combining alternative remedies with medications.

In the early stage, toenail fungus appears as almost imperceptible grooves or white spots. Often a person only learns that they have a fungal infection when they visit a dermatologist. This is explained by the fact that during this period it is almost impossible to recognize the disease on your own. If therapy is started on time, the disease heals quickly.

Fungi (onychomycosis) is not just a dermatological disease; in advanced forms many internal systems and organs are affected. To timely stop the pathology, you need to know the symptoms and treatment methods. How does the disease manifest itself in different stages? Which drugs are most effective?

You can contract the fungus at home if someone in your family has it; everyone uses the same pedicure or manicure kit. But in public places the risk of infection is much higher: the fungus lives in bathhouses, swimming pools and showers of fitness centers.

What diseases can cause fungal infections:

  • flat feet, congenital or acquired foot deformity;
  • poor blood circulation in the lower limbs;
  • increased sweating of the feet;
  • calluses, excessively rough skin on the feet;
  • frequent injuries to the nail plate;
  • weakened immunity, any chronic diseases, diabetes.

Foot fungus often develops among lovers of narrow shoes and among people who neglect the rules of personal hygiene. The infection often occurs in beauty salons where the tools are poorly processed. The disease can be caused by taking oral contraceptives and antibacterial drugs.

Preventive measures

To avoid the disease you need:

  • Avoid direct contact with fungal carriers.
  • Observe personal hygiene rules, wash your hands after visiting public places.
  • After washing, dry the areas between your toes thoroughly, as the fungus loves a warm, moist environment.
  • Do not use other people's shoes and household items.
  • Wear socks made from natural fabrics.
  • Wear shoes in a public pool, bathhouse, or sauna.
  • Use personal accessories for manicure.
prevent fungal nail infections


The prognosis for timely diagnosis and adequate treatment of nail fungus is favorable. Against the background of concomitant chronic diseases, the prognosis worsens.

Treatment for advanced nail fungus is long-term. Relapses occur in 40-70% of cases.