Maybe you don’t think having a yellowed or thickened toenail is all that important. Or, do you believe that having athlete’s foot is easy to treat with an over-the-counter spray? But, even a minor discoloration can be a sign of toenail fungus (onychomycosis) that’s worthy of an appointment to my office since it can lead to serious problems. Let’s look at what are the symptoms of nail fungus, what are some of its complications, and how we treat it.
Toenail fungus is often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing any pain. It is characterized by a progressive change in a toenail’s quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing. You could have nail fungus on either your finger nails or toenails, though it is most common on the toes. It begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect one or several nails. You may also notice a slightly foul smell.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, over time, the nail infected with fungus can cause foot pain, making it difficult to walk when wearing shoes. It can become of particular concern especially for people with diabetes and others who have weakened immune systems.
If the infection spreads beyond the nail to the skin, which is quite possible, and causes cracking, bacteria can get in. This may cause cellulitis, a condition that produces swollen, red, tender skin and must be treated with antibiotics. In the most severe situations, if left untreated and gets into the bloodstream, it actually can turn deadly—all from a yellowed toenail.
Now you can understand why it’s so important to seek medical attention sooner rather than later. I take a sample from the toenail and have it analyzed. If fungus is present, I may prescribe an oral or topical antifungal medication to help treat the fungus. Most medications have few or no side effects and are easily tolerated by patients.
Infected toenails can separate from the nail bed. If this happens, I may need to remove the loose portion of the nail. Even if an infected toenail doesn’t become loose, it may still need to be removed if the fungus doesn’t go away with traditional treatments. Temporary removal of the infected nail might be required to allow for direct application of a topical antifungal. The most extreme treatment involves the permanent removal of a chronically painful nail that has not responded to any other treatment.
You should schedule an appointment when you notice any discoloration, thickening, or deformity of your toenails. The earlier you seek professional treatment, the greater your chance of getting your nails back to their clear, healthy state. We are here for all your foot care needs. You may come and see me by scheduling an appointment at
We work to make every aspect of your visit the most satisfying experience you’ve had. We treat patients of all ages, and our friendly staff strives to ensure a pleasant office visit.
Miami Podiatrist Dr. Sandra Gotman provides each patient with the information you need to make good choices about your foot and ankle care. We don’t simply want to tell you about your diagnoses; we also want to work with you to determine the best plan for treatment of your foot and ankle discomfort.
We approach foot and ankle care with a humble, yet educated and experienced approach.
Monday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Tuesday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Wednesday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Thursday: 1:30PM – 6:00PM
Friday: 9:00AM – 5:00PM