Is every discolored toenail on my feet a fungal infection?

Many people are alarmed when they look at their toenails and all of a sudden notice the nail is discolored.  They immediately think they have a fungus infection in the toenail, called onychomycosis.  Sometimes they are correct, but often they come into the office and the discoloration is a darkened area under the toenail.  They may remember wearing a shoe that caused some pain in the toe but did not think anything of it.  Some wait for weeks to see if it goes away, and when it doe not they call for an appointment.

This type of toenail will typically have had some trauma to the nail causing some bleeding underneath the toenail, thus causing the dark discoloration.  The discoloration will typically grow out over time, depending on how far back it is located to the base of the toenail.  It may take anywhere from three to ten months to grow out.

One of the problems with this “sub ungual hematoma” is that is it can be the precursor to developing a fungal infection in the toenail.  A fungus in the nail will generally have the appearance of yellowish-brown discoloration in the nail and the toenail may become thickened and also may be flaky.

If you are concerned that you may have injured your toe or have a fungal infection, it is best to have it evaluated early.  This may help you avoid the embarrassing spread of the fungal infection into the other toenails and further discoloration.  The earlier treatment can be started the less time it may take to have those beautiful looking toenails again!

If your toenails are discolored, thick, painful or crumbly; give us a call at (760) 568-0108 or contact us for an appointment thru the website so we can diagnose and help you have better looking toenails. 

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle