How Nail Fungus Looks Like: A Comprehensive Guide


Nail fungus is a common condition that affects many individuals worldwide. It can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing. In this article, we will delve into the details of how nail fungus looks like, its symptoms, and possible treatment options. Understanding the visual aspects of nail fungus is essential for early detection and effective management.

What is Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection that primarily affects the nails. It occurs when certain types of fungi, such as dermatophytes, invade the nails and cause an infection. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, making the feet especially susceptible to nail fungus.

How Does Nail Fungus Develop?

The development of nail fungus typically starts with the invasion of fungi through tiny cuts or separations between the nail and nail bed. Once inside, the fungi begin to multiply and spread, leading to various visual changes in the affected nails.

What are the Visual Signs of Nail Fungus?

how nail fungus look like

Nail fungus can affect both fingernails and toenails, but it is more commonly found in toenails due to the favorable conditions in shoes and socks. The visual signs of nail fungus may include:

  • Discoloration: Infected nails often develop a yellow, brown, greenish, or blackish hue. This discoloration can start at the tip of the nail and gradually extend towards the cuticle.
  • Thickened Nails: Fungal infections can cause the nails to become thickened, making them appear abnormally bulky. The affected nails may lose their natural shape and become distorted.
  • Fragile or Crumbly Texture: Infected nails may become brittle, fragile, or crumbly. They can easily break or split, leading to further discomfort.
  • Distorted Nail Bed: As the infection progresses, the nail bed itself may become distorted. It can develop irregularities, such as pits or indentations.
  • Detachment from Nail Bed: In severe cases, the infected nail may detach partially or completely from the nail bed. This condition is known as onycholysis.

Are There Any Other Symptoms?

In addition to the visual signs mentioned above, nail fungus can also manifest with other symptoms, including:

  • Unpleasant Odor: Infected nails may emit a foul smell due to the presence of fungi and bacteria.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Some individuals may experience pain, tenderness, or discomfort in the affected area.
  • Itching or Burning Sensation: Nail fungus can cause itching or a burning sensation around the infected nail.

Treatment Options for Nail Fungus

If you suspect that you have nail fungus, it is essential to seek proper diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare professional. Depending on the severity of the infection, various treatment options may be recommended, including:

1. Topical Antifungal Medications

Topical antifungal creams, ointments, or nail lacquers are commonly prescribed for mild to moderate cases of nail fungus. These medications are applied directly to the affected nails and surrounding skin to eradicate the fungal infection.

2. Oral Antifungal Medications

In more severe cases, oral antifungal medications may be necessary. These prescription drugs help eliminate the fungal infection from within the body. However, they may have potential side effects and require regular monitoring by a healthcare professional.

3. Laser Treatment

Laser therapy is an advanced treatment option that targets the fungi responsible for nail infections. It uses laser energy to heat and destroy the fungi without causing harm to the surrounding tissues. Laser treatment for nail fungus is considered safe, effective, and minimally invasive.

4. Surgical Nail Removal

In extreme cases where other treatments fail or the infection is too severe, surgical nail removal may be recommended. This procedure involves removing the infected nail under local anesthesia. A new nail will eventually grow in its place, but it may take several months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can nail fungus go away on its own?

A: In some cases, nail fungus may resolve without treatment, but it can take a significant amount of time. Seeking appropriate treatment can help speed up the recovery process and prevent further complications.

Q: How can I prevent nail fungus?

A: To reduce the risk of nail fungus, it is advisable to keep your feet clean and dry, avoid walking barefoot in public areas, wear breathable shoes and moisture-wicking socks, and regularly trim your nails.

Q: Is nail fungus contagious?

how nail fungus look like

A: Yes, nail fungus is contagious. It can spread from person to person through direct contact or by sharing contaminated items such as nail clippers, towels, or shoes.

Q: Can I wear nail polish if I have nail fungus?

A: It is generally not recommended to wear nail polish while treating a nail fungus infection. Nail polish can trap moisture and create an environment conducive to fungal growth.


Recognizing the visual signs of nail fungus is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment. If you notice any changes in your nails’ appearance, such as discoloration, thickening, or detachment, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation. With proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, you can effectively manage nail fungus and restore the health and appearance of your nails.