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Onychomycosis: Yellow Toenail Fungus

Updated on October 2, 2010

What Causes Yellow Toenail Fungus

Onychomycosis, commonly known as yellow toenail fungus, can be an embarrassing and sometimes very painful condition to suffer from. What often begins as a tiny white or yellow spot on the edge of your toenail can spread further into the nail and nail bed producing the thickened, yellowed toenails with flaking toenail edges that keep us from wearing sandals or going barefoot.

Onychomycosis is the medical term for the common nail fungal infection condition. Characterized by easily breakable, misshapen toenails with a yellow, dull, or darkened look to the nail, yellow toenail fungus that is left for too long has the potential to spread to other toenails, and eventually cause separation of the toenail from its nail bed, which is a very painful condition to deal with and recover from. You may also notice an abnormally strong odor coming from your toenails.

Toenail fungus infections are caused by microscopic organisms that seep into your nails. Yellow toenails can be caused by either dermatophytes, mold, or yeasts. Sometimes even psoriasis or bacterial infections in the nail can mimic the symptoms of a nail fungal infection, but most commonly it is the fungi dermatophytes that are the cause of unsightly yellow toenail fungus.

Along with the dark, warm, and moist environment that shoes provide, toenail fungus has the potential to thrive and spread. This is why it is important to wear shoes and socks with ample ventilation and not walk barefoot in public pool areas or showers at the gym where fungus thrives.

Can Yellow Toenail Fungus Kill You

While having yellow toenail fungus is not life threatening, a toenail fungus infection can be extremely difficult to treat and will thrive until treatment is sought. Even with certain prescription toenail fungus treatments, yellow toenail fungus can return. However, over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments are often ineffective in fungus elimination. Taking care to notice changes in your toenails' condition is key to catching yellow toenail fungus before it spreads deeper within your tissue making it much easier to treat.

There are certain prescription medications that will help cure toenail fungal infections more permanently. These are the most effective in yellow toenail fungus treatment, but the treatment option your doctor chooses will depend on the severity of your nail fungus infection. The most common treatments your doctor will prescribe are an oral anti-fungal medication, a topical medication, a lacquer or anti-fungal nail polish treatment, or in the worst case scenario, surgery to remove the entire toenail. Surgery is only necessary for very serious or very painful toenail fungus infections.

The best thing to do if you believe you are suffering from yellow toenail fungus is to make an appointment with your doctor. While there are at-home and natural remedies available for the treatment of toenail infections, they often do not work as well as more standard medical treatments.

yellow toenail fungus
yellow toenail fungus


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