The Earliest Signs of a Fungal Toenail Infection
The initial signs of toenail fungus are very subtle. They might not even register as a potential infection at all unless you know what you’re looking for.
The earliest signs include:
- Unusual white or yellow streaks or spots in the nail
- Crumbling along the edges or tips of the nail, particularly where it’s discolored
- Flaking of the nail in certain areas
- Increasing distortion of nail shape
- Potentially more noticeable foot odor
The spots and streaks can be a particularly tricky symptom, as such marks can appear when you have bumped your toe against something as well.
The best way to tell the difference between nail trauma and a fungal infection is to keep an eye on the marks for a while. Marks from a nail injury will eventually fade or grow out as the nail does. Spots and streaks from a fungal infection, however, will gradually change shape and grow.
If you are uncertain of your symptoms, it is never a bad idea to err on the side of caution and have them checked out anyway. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be a fungal infection, you’ll at least have the peace of mind of knowing.
What if I Have Later Stages of Toenail Fungus?
If your nails have already reached the thick, crumbly, majorly discolored stage, don’t fret. Your case is not hopeless!
Toenail fungus can actually be quite complex, but our experts will take the time to carefully examine your condition, assess both the type and severity of the disease, and then recommend a precisely tailored treatment plan we feel will give you the optimal chance of clearing the fungus. One particular treatment method we’re particularly proud to be able to offer is laser treatment.
Laser treatment is able to pass through nail tissue and hit a fungal infection right at the source. Topical medications, on the other hand, can have more trouble reaching the underlying infection. And oral anti-fungal medications, while able to treat the problem from the inside out, can sometimes come with side effects that don’t make them recommended for certain patients. (However, we might still recommend one of these treatments instead of or alongside laser treatment, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding a case.)
A course of laser treatment typically requires 3-4 sessions spaced out over a period of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the condition. These sessions don’t cause any burning and rarely cause any pain – most patients will feel a warming sensation and nothing more.
Although laser treatment can be very effective at eliminating the fungus, you should not expect your nails to look perfect immediately after the final session. Although the fungus may be gone, the damage it left to the nails will remain until fresh, clear nails can grow out to replace it. Full results may take anywhere from 6-12 months to see.