Toenail Infection

What is a toenail infection?

A toenail infection, also known as onychomycosis, is a common condition caused by a fungal infection in one or more of the toenails. Fungi, including dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds, can invade the nail bed and the material underneath the toenail, leading to an infection. The infection can make the toenail thickened, discolored, brittle, and sometimes malodorous.

You can also get an infection around your skin around your nail, this type of infection is known as paronychia. This type of infection is caused by bacteria and should NOT be ignored.

How do toenail infections develop?

If you have a fungal infection, onychomycosis, it often develops from fungal foot infections. Fungi love to grow in dark, mosit, warm places making your feet an ideal place to grow. If your feet touch infected skin or contaminated surfaces in pools or showers, the fungus can grow.

Your are at higher risk of developing a fungal nail infection if you:

  • have sweaty feet

  • wear closed shoes for long periods of time

  • keep injuring your nail

  • have a health condition such as diabetes or a weekend immune system

  • have a skin condition

A bacterial infection, paronychia, is often caused by damage to the skin near the nail, which lets the infection in. Other ways you can get this infection is picking at your toenails, a pedicure in an unclean environment, or an ingrown toenail.

If you have symptoms of plantar fasciitis, come in and see us and we will advise you on your treatment options.

What are the symptoms?

If you have a fungal nail infection, you might experience the following:

  • yellow or brown discolouration of the nail or white spots

  • crumbling of the nail when it is cut

  • thickening of the nail

  • separation of the nail from the nail bed underneath

  • pain or a bad smell under your nail

If you have a bacterial infection, you might experience the following:

  • a painful, red, swollen area of skin next to your nail

  • yellow pus under the skin

  • separation of the nail from the nail bed

  • painful blisters

  • fever

How common are toenail infections?

Toenail fungus is very common. This condition becomes even more common as people start to age. Studies show that this condition effects 1 in 10 people overall. This jumps to 1 in 2 people older than 70.

Bacterial toenail infections are also very common and anyone can get this infection.


Toenail fungus is generally treated by either taking a medication, or removing the nail and applying medication. Treatment generally takes about 6 months, sometimes longer if extreme cases. Your nail may not look normal for several months after treatment until a new healthy nail grows in. Getting rid of toenail fungus is extremely difficult.

Bacterial toenail infections can not be treated at home and is a serious condition. If left untreated the infection can spread to your bone.

How can I prevent toenail infections?

  • ensuring your feet are clean and kept dry

  • keeping your toenails short

  • wearing clean cotton socks and changing them every day

  • wearing shoes that fit well and let air flow in

  • wearing footwear in public showers

  • not sharing nail scissors or shoes

Think you have a toenail infection and need to be seen? Schedule an appointment with us today.

Dr. Emlyn Forsung

Foot & Ankle Surgeon

Metro Foot & Ankle Specialist, P.C.

10040 Regency Cir Suite 345

Omaha, NE 68114

Phone: 402-541-8336

Fax: 402-512-8182