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It is a common misconception that all thickened toenails are caused by a fungal infection. In fact, there are many causes of thickened toenails.  So, how do you know if your thickened nail is due to a fungal toenail infection?

The two most common causes of thick toenails are nail fungus and nail dystrophy.  Nail dystrophy is a thickening caused by repeated micro-trauma to the nail, usually from footwear pressure.  Nail fungus is due to the nail becoming infected with fungal organisms from the environment.   These two types of nail problems are treated differently, so it is important to know the cause of your thickened toenails before deciding on the best form of treatment.

A fungal toenail infection can be identified by the following common presentation:

  • Thickened toenail
  • Nail discoloration – this might be a milky-white or yellowish-brown discoloration, with a dull, low-lustre appearance;
  • Nail discoloration might be in patches or with long streaks along the length of the nail;
  • Separation of the nail away from the nail bed;
  • The nail may become brittle, crumbly or rough;
  • Surrounding skin may be inflamed or scaly;
  • A build up of debris under the nail plate;
  • The infection often starts in just one nail, but several may then become affected;
  • Usually painless initially, however, as the nail becomes thickened and damaged some discomfort may occur especially with enclosed footwear.

If you are concerned about the appearance of your toenails, consult with the Podiatrists at Foot Health Clinic for professional care, accurate diagnosis and access to the latest in fungal nail laser treatmentRemember, the earlier treatment is commenced, the easier it is to treat. We also stock and recommend the SteriShoe UV Shoe Sanitiser.

Here are some images of typical toenail fungus infections: