Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails.
If your condition is mild and not bothering you, you may not need treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, self-care steps and medications may help. But even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often comes back.
You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:
Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
Brittle, crumbly or ragged
Distorted in shape
A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
Smelling slightly foul
Nail fungus can affect fingernails, but it's more common in toenails.
When to see a doctor
You may want to see a physician if self-care steps haven't helped and the nail becomes increasingly discolored, thickened or deformed. Also see a doctor if you have diabetes and think you're developing nail fungus.
Wash your hands and feet regularly. Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Moisturize your nails after washing.
Trim nails straight across, smooth the edges with a file and file down thickened areas. Disinfect your nail clippers after each use.
Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day.
Choose shoes made of materials that breathe.
Discard old shoes or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
Wear footwear in pool areas and locker rooms.
Choose a nail salon that uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer.
Give up toxic nail polish and artificial nails.