Fungus 411

Signs and Stages of Nail Fungus Progression

Kendall Weatherman
September 28, 2022

Fungal nail  infections, also known as onychomycosis, occur when microscopic fungi enter the nail through a small trauma. If left untreated, it can quickly spread to other nails  Severe cases can impair one's ability to walk, cause painful ingrown toenails and nail loss, and can complicate more serious health issues.  

Toenail Fungus: Symptoms and Stages

The most common symptoms of toenail and fingernail fungus are visible and painful. Symptoms can include nail thickening, pain, dry or brittle nail texture, changes in nail shape or color, and onycholysis, which is when the nail separates from the nail bed.

In most cases, it starts with fungus infecting a single nail by entering through a crack or opening. It is often painless, but it causes the nail to thicken, discolor, and eventually crumble due to brittleness. If the nail has been lifted from the skin beneath it, white or yellow patches may appear due to air breaking the seal between the nail and the nail bed . The fungus may also infect and spread to other nails.

Since many of these signs and symptoms can also be caused by other nail and skin problems, it's best to have a doctor look at the nail. Only when the problem is correctly diagnosed, proper treatment can be given.

Stages of Nail Fungus Progression

In its early stages, a nail fungus infection is only noticeable by a change in texture or color - usually a white or yellow plaque that starts on the end and sides of the nail (this is called distal lateral subungual onychomycosis). It may be subtle and initially overlooked. 

But if the first symptoms are ignored, even if they seem harmless, they can worsen the infection and speed up the growth of the fungus. The best time to start treatment is in the early stages, before the mid-level or moderate stage, when the nail thickens enough to hurt, especially when wearing gloves, shoes, or doing activities that put pressure on the infected area.

If you don't treat the fungus at this stage, it may spread to the whole nail. At this point, the whole nail is often yellow or a different color.

In the last and most severe stage, the fungus spreads and makes the nail abnormally thick and very brittle. This can cause the nail or part of it to separate from the nail bed.  It can also spread to the surrounding nails, and even from the toenails to the fingernails (and vice versa). 

Get the Right Treatment at Caratin Rx

Onychomycosis is a costly, frustrating, and time-consuming nail disorder to treat, especially when it spreads to multiple nails. It is critical to detect any signs of infection as soon as possible before the nail fungus infections worsen. 

To learn more about the stages of nail fungus or Caratin Rx’s novel treatments to treat nail fungus and improve nail health.

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