Toenail fungus is an infection that gets in through cracks in your toenail or cuts in your skin and can make your toenail get thicker or even change color. Thankfully it’s treatable, and to give you an idea of how the recovery process goes, we’ll be showing toenail fungus pictures before and after.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Nail fungus (also called onychomycosis) starts as a white or yellowish spot under the tip of the fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause the nail to discolor, thicken, and crumble around the edge, affecting other nails. It also tends to smell slightly foul.
The infections are caused by various fungal organisms (fungi); the common cause is dermatophyte fungus, which can be transmitted from soil, animals, and contact with other people. Contact with bacteria, yeast, and molds also can cause nail infections.
Other contributing factors include:
- Aging – While fungal nail infection can happen to anyone regardless of age, it’s more common in older adults. As a person ages, the nails become brittle, dry, and cracked. The cracks in the nails allow fungi to enter.
- Reduced blood circulation – Poor blood flow to the feet may result in the nails drying up and cracking.
- Being in damp areas – Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms, can make you prone to skin infections since bacteria and microorganisms thrive in such areas.
- Previous history of skin conditions – If you’ve had an athlete’s foot in the past, you could be at risk of having a nail fungal infection since dermatophytes cause both conditions. Also, if you have skin psoriasis, there’s a chance of it developing in the nails.
- Various health conditions – Dried and brittle nails are common among people with diabetes, iron deficiency, or a weakened immune system, making them prone to nail fungal infections.
Treatment is not required if the condition is mild, but if the infected nail(s) is painful and has caused thickened nails, doing self-care steps and medications may help. Otherwise, you may want to see a physician.
Before And After Pictures
Users from Tiktok and other popular social media platforms have shared their experiences with toenail fungus and how they’ve managed to overcome it. Here’s what some of them have to say:
TW: Severely infected nails
The Fly Foot Doctor (@theflyfootdoctor)
Texas-based podiatrist Ejodamen Shobowale encountered a patient with severe toenail fungus on not one but multiple toenails on both feet. As we can see in the video, the nails had severely thickened and discolored to the point of the nails growing beyond the nail beds and even the toes.
According to Shobowale, the patient had put up with the condition for several years and didn’t think it could be treated until a family member referred him to her clinic, where she trimmed the severely infected nails.
Lori Halloway (@meticulousmanicurist)
Lori Halloway is a mani-pedi expert sharing her client videos on Tiktok. In this video, she performed a toenail restoration on a woman with a severe case of toenail fungus.
The process involved nail debridement (removal), scraping off dead skin, and applying topical medications. This method will allow the nails to regrow healthily.
Liv Holistic (@livholistic)
Tiktok influencer Liv Holistic talked about having toenail fungus in the past and shared that she used a variety of essential oils like tea tree oil, oregano oil, and other carrier oils like jojoba, avocado, and olive oil. In one video, she shows one person’s results, claiming that the oil treatment lasted only 14 days.
Scientists have proven that essential oils have antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. One study in South Africa showed that a combination of essential oils such as sandalwood, lavender, geranium, etc., had effectively inhibited the growth of trichophyton mentagrophyte, which causes nail fungal infections, tinea, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and similar infections involving the beard, skin, and scalp.
Black Rock Podiatry (@blackrockpodiatry.ie)
Surgical nail removal is often the absolute last resort option for treating toenail fungus if treatments have failed on severe or returning fungal nail infections, with either a part of the nail or the whole nail being removed completely to allow nails to regrow.
One patient in the Black Rock Podiatry Clinic in Ireland had their left 4th and right 3rd fungal toenails surgically removed. So far, both toenails have grown back healthily.
Ways To Prevent Toenail Fungus
Practicing the following hygiene habits can help you prevent nail fungus or treat it if you have one.
- Keep your extremities clean – Always wash your hands and feet, especially after touching an infected nail.
- Always moisturize – Moisturize your nails after washing to keep them from drying up.
- Trim your nails properly – Trim your nails straight across, smooth the edges with a file and file down thickened areas. Always disinfect your nail clippers or tools after each use and avoid sharing with others.
- Choose better socks – Wear sweat-absorbing socks to prevent the bacteria from lodging in the skin, or change your socks within the day.
- Opt for more comfortable footwear – Choose looser shoes made of breathable materials. Avoid excessively tight shoes that can cause pressure and friction on the toenails.
- Keep your shoes clean – Since the fungus can live up to 20 months in shoes, it’s best to thoroughly clean with disinfectants or antifungal powders regularly. Otherwise, you can also dispose of them.
- Avoid walking barefoot in damp areas – Always wear slippers in pool areas and locker rooms to avoid having contact with damp, bacteria-ridden moisture.
- Pick your nail salons wisely – Choose a nail salon that uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer — since toenail infections can also stem from unsanitary salons.
Having toenail fungus can be an inconvenient and unsightly ordeal for many but is easily preventable by always observing proper foot and nail hygiene. Taking good care of your nails by keeping them well-trimmed and clean is a good way to prevent infections.
While self-care tips are available and effective for the most part, it’s best to check with a doctor or a podiatrist if the affected nails become increasingly discolored, thickened, or deformed. That way, they can employ more appropriate treatments.
Also, if you have diabetes and think you’re developing nail fungus, see your doctor immediately to avoid further complications.