Nail Fungus Symptoms

A fungal nail infection is mostly asymptomatic, it is usually painless but sometimes it can cause pain and discomfort if left untreated. Pain is usually felt due to thickened nails caused by the nail fungus. You may have a difficult time wearing closed shoes, walking and even standing for long periods of time. Also known as onychomycosis and tinea unguium, nail fungal infection affects either the toenails or fingernails. It may involve any of the nail unit components from the matrix, bed, or plate.

Signs and Symptoms

Usual nail fungus symptoms are characterized by the appearance of a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. It can also infect several nails but not all of them. Usually painless, it is also associated with some notable symptoms as the infection goes deeper into the nails like:

  • Nail discoloration
  • Thickening of the nail
  • Notable dullness with no shine
  • Nails become brittle, crumbly or ragged
  • Separation of nails from the nail bed also known as onycholysis
  • A slightly foul odor coming from the infected nail
  • In severe cases, pain, paresthesia and loss of dexterity

It can also lower one’s self-esteem and may experience some loss of social interaction

Subtypes of Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis has 6 main subtypes.

1. Distal Lateral Subungual Onychomycosis (DLSO)

This specific subtype affects both the nail and the skin underneath known as the nail bed. It has the following symptoms that include:

  • Yellow streaks in the nail bed and undersides of the infected nail
  • Skin buildup usually noted in bits or pieces and nail debris underneath the nail
  • Nail discoloration
  • Thickening of the nail and noted separation from the underlying skin
  • Brittle and broken nails

2. White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO)

This is a kind of fungal infection that usually affects the nail surface and its symptoms include the following:

  • Small, white spots and streaks on the infected nail surface
  • Usually confined to the toenails
  • The nails becomes rough and crumbles easily
  • Damaged nails but there is no nail separation noted on the underlying skin
  • If the case worsens, you can see speckled or powdery patches on the surface of the nail plate
  • Molds may be noted from a deep variety of infection as evidenced by a larger and deeper scale of nail plate invasion

3. Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (PSO)

This is one of the rarest forms of onychomycosis that affects the nail plate from the eponychium, nail matrix and spreads distally. Notable symptoms include:

  • Initially, there will be white patches seen on the proximal side of the nail plate that may be confused with the symptoms of WSO. But with PSO, the inner layer of the nail plate is affected.
  • If caused by molds, leukonychia is usually associated with peringual inflammation

4. Endonyx Onychomycosis (EO)

This is one of the subtypes of onychomycosis that cause a white discoloration of the nail and no notable damage on the nail or the nail bed.  It is usually evidenced by the following features:

  • Usually asymptomatic
  • Milky white discoloration of the nail plate
  • No notable subungual hyperkeratosis or onycholysis

5. Candidal Onychomycosis

It is a known subtype of onychomycosis that infects the nail plate and is basically caused by the fungus known as candida. There are distinct features you may notice with this kind of infection such as:

  • Development of immunodepression or chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis
  • Usually affects most or all digits
  • Total onychomycosis associated with periungual inflammation
  • Bulbous or drumstick appearance of the toes or fingers

6. Total Dystrophic Onychomycosis

This is the most advanced form of these subtypes and may be the end result of any of the main forms of onychomycosis. This conditions is evidenced by the following features:

  • Total destruction of the nail plate
  • Thickened and opaque nails
  • Yellow-brown discoloration of the nails

Nail fungal Infections can be cured if given proper attention, comprehensive diagnosis and accurate treatment. However, even if full recovery from various types of nail fungus is noted, recurrence of the said infection is still inevitable.