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

According to statistics, almost half of all visits to a dermatologist are, in one way or another, related to fungal diseases. You can pick up an infection when visiting a swimming pool, sauna, visiting the beach or walking around in your host's slippers. Find out everything about how to recognize toenail fungus without scrapings or using other diagnostic methods - symptoms of onychomycosis in the initial and chronic stages of the disease.

What is toenail fungus

Yeast mushrooms

They are in second place in the frequency of occurrence of mycoses of the feet. The disease is provoked by two types of pathogens of the genus Candida:

  • White Candida (Candida albicans) - most often occurs 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 previously been injured.
  • Aspergillus or black mold - infection with onychomycosis is possible only for people with reduced immunity. The main symptom of the disease is deformation of the nail plates 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 stripes. Without specific treatment, fungal spores can spread throughout the body and cause severe skin lesions.
  • Mentagrophytes (Trichophyton mentagrophytes) – cracks appear in the interdigital spaces, severe pain when moving. Without proper therapy, it spreads to the nails; the fungus can especially often affect the thumb and little finger.
  • Epidermophyton floccosum - at the initial stage 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 fingers. 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 - depending on 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 several more types of diseases:

  • distal – when only the edge suffers from the fungus;
  • lateral - pathological processes begin near the skin ridges;
  • proximal – the change affects the lower part;
  • white superficial onychomycosis - white spots or stripes 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, which are 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 plate remains the same. Sometimes gray-yellow spots may appear.


This type of onychomycosis manifests itself in 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 over the entire surface of the nail;
  • the bed is visually divided into sectors;
  • Gray mucus gradually begins to come out from under the nail.
fungal nail disease


This one has one 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 only goes away after taking painkillers. Hypertrophic mycosis has three stages:

  • Total - a massive lesion that affects the thickness of the nail plate.
  • Lateral - appears on the side parts.
  • Distal - the infection is localized 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 plate 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 plate 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 proper treatment, areas covered with hyperkeratosis may appear at the site of the lesion.

Candidal onychomycosis

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

  • lack of skin on the nail growth line;
  • 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;
  • brownish-brown color of the nail plate;
  • soft tissue soreness.

Proximal deforming

One of the rarest forms of onychomycosis. The disease often begins to develop from soft tissues, gradually moving to a healthy nail. Fungal growth begins 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 plate loses its shine and becomes dull, then the nail is destroyed, and loose accumulations of small skin flakes are visible in the place of the bed. Pathological processes begin from the outer part, 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 at an average degree the plate is noticeably deformed, becomes thick, and its structure is heterogeneous. Such signs cannot be ignored, since the next stage is dystrophic, the nail may completely collapse, inflammatory processes begin in the periungual ridges, and a 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 plate thickens, deep cracks may form on it, and discomfort occurs while 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 becomes loose 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 fungus appear in the form of thickening of the skin in the area of the nail fold, the nail becomes completely white and opaque.

There are a number of diseases that exhibit 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.

symptoms of toenail fungus

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 interrelated, but are not synonymous. The atrophic type refers to impaired 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 the 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 the bed;
  • Small cracks and sometimes blisters appear between the fingers.

Itching and burning

Very often the disease manifests itself on the legs in the form of severe itching. This feeling begins to bother the patient from the first days after infection. If fungal spores attack the plate, itching is felt around the affected area, while the skin becomes flabby, dry and peeling, and irritation appears. If the infection started from soft tissues, the fingers themselves itch. When the skin is strongly scratched, the 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 become noticeable. At the initial stages of 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 stages of fungal infection:

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

Pain in the nail area

Discomfort with nail fungus is not a typical concept for every patient. Some patients may not experience 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, lose their original appearance, and become deformed. In this case, even the most worn-out shoes cause noticeable 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 captures more and more new territories. When it gets into the soft nail tissue, the infection often affects the nerve endings, causing aching, paroxysmal or throbbing pain. If a symptom arises for this reason, discomfort may occur even at rest.
  3. One of the signs of foot fungus is the appearance of small cracks and blisters between the toes. The skin may become very red and inflamed, and the fingers may become swollen. 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, the appearance of unevenness, thinning or thickening of the plate, delamination - these are the first signs of toenail fungus that fit the general description. However, with careful self-diagnosis of the disease, it can even be classified. Eg:

  • Infection with dermatophytes begins from the free edge of the plate. The appearance of fungus is indicated by a small yellow spot and a crumbling surface.
  • Yeast-like fungi are characterized by a proximal form - when infection begins at the base. The main symptom of onychomycosis of the candidiasis type is inflammation of the periungual fold, separation of the cuticle, pain when pressing.
  • Molds turn fingers green, brown or black. Mold infection appears as spots, small dots or longitudinal plates.

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

Symptoms of fungal nail infections

At the initial stage of infection, toenail fungus is almost invisible and does not cause any inconvenience (see photo). Then 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 area of the damaged nail;
  • the skin on the 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 only get by with external preparations: ointments, varnishes and folk remedies. In a more advanced form, you will need to take antifungal tablets, in which case you will not be able to quickly get rid of fungus on your feet.

What is dangerous about 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:

  • Untreated nail fungus in a timely manner opens the door to other infections.
  • In addition, the fungus can act as an allergen, and ultimately provoke 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 the internal organs through the blood.

To avoid complications, you need to quickly start treatment 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 local means of influence. This group includes medicinal varnishes and peel-off patches, ointments and creams, and gels. The bulk of drugs for external use are effective only in the initial stage of the disease.
  2. The second group consists of systemic antimycotic drugs that are taken orally. Usually these are capsules or tablets that have an inhibitory effect on the fungus. They block the spread of mycosis and have a prolonged effect, which significantly reduces the possibility of a re-outbreak of the disease.

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

Laser therapy

If the advanced form of the fungus cannot be treated with medications, you can resort to laser therapy.

  1. Laser treatment of fungus is considered one of the most effective ways to get rid of this disease.
  2. Under the influence of the beam, the fungal cells instantly die.
  3. The laser beam does not harm nearby 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 simultaneously take all the necessary pills and vitamins.

nail fungus treatment with laser

Drug therapy for onychomycosis

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

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

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

To soften the nail, you can use patches 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 a fungal remedy prescribed by a dermatologist.

The specialist most often prescribes only medications for external use.


Antifungal systemic agents are not used for onychomycosis in the initial stage of development.

Treating nail fungus at home

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

  1. Apple 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 goes away, and a beautiful and new one grows in place of the old damaged nail.
  2. Tea tree oil should be applied to skin and nails affected by fungus three times a day. A single dose is from 4 to 10 drops of products. This treatment should be continued for at least two weeks, or even longer, to ensure that the infection does not return to you. This oil should not be used by children or pregnant women.
  3. Freshly picked celandine is passed through a meat grinder, and the juice is squeezed out of the resulting pulp (this is done through 3-4 layers of gauze). It should yield approximately 200 ml. juiceIt is combined with 200 ml. 70% alcohol and leave 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 completely drying them. The course of treatment is 10-12 days, 3-4 treatments per day.
  4. Another way to eliminate nail fungus is to treat it 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 your leg, then put on socks. In the morning, you need to wash your feet with warm water, carefully remove dead areas and lubricate them with iodine. Side effects include quite severe pain, but you can achieve the desired result much faster.

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

antifungal bath for nails

Infection with pathogenic fungi occurs through contact, as well as through poor hygiene. Onychomycosis (fungus of the nail plate) is most often contracted through the use of shared shoes in everyday life, in gyms and other places with high humidity and temperature. The initial stage of toenail fungus has certain 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 consultation with a dermatologist. Many of them can provoke allergic reactions. It is easier to cure onychomycosis by combining alternative remedies with medications.

At the initial stage, toenail fungus appears as almost imperceptible grooves or white spots. Often a person only learns that he or she has a fungal infection when visiting a dermatologist. This is explained by the fact that it is almost impossible to recognize the disease on your own during this period. If therapy is started on time, the disease is quickly cured.

Fungus (onychomycosis) is not only a dermatological disease; in advanced forms, many systems and internal organs are affected. In order to promptly stop the pathology, you need to know the symptoms and treatment methods. How does the disease manifest itself at different stages? Which medications are most effective?

You can become infected with fungus at home if someone in your household 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 in fitness centers.

What diseases can provoke fungal infection:

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

Fungus on the feet often develops among lovers of tight shoes and people who neglect the rules of personal hygiene. Infection often occurs in beauty salons where instruments are poorly processed. The disease can be provoked by taking oral contraceptives and antibacterial drugs.

Preventive measures

In order to avoid the disease, it is necessary:

  • Avoid direct contact with fungal carriers.
  • Observe personal hygiene rules, wash your hands after visiting public places.
  • After washing, carefully wipe the areas between your fingers, as the fungus loves a warm and 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 manicure accessories.
preventing 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.