There are many reasons why nails can be discolored or deformed. Minor injury is the most common. Here are some other causes:
- A black spot under the nail after a “hammer” blow is blood.
- White, cloud like marks on the tips are from minor trauma.
- Splitting, peeling or brittleness is usually from over exposure to strong soaps or chemicals.
- Thickened toe nails or ingrown nail can be from tight, ill-fitting shoes.
- Discoloration happens with a number of ailments including fungal infections that can turn your nails yellow, grey, brown or black.
- Injury, chemical exposure or a reaction to medicine can cause an array of colors.
- Internal disorders can deform your nails. For instance, a problem in your lungs may cause clubbing or thickening of your nails.
- Nails can also be affected during an illness or recovery period.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. This is truly basic. Fungus loves a damp place to feed.
- Wear sandals as often as possible.
- Go barefoot around the house.
- Change socks twice a day (or more) if your feet sweat. Best choice is to wear white as colored socks are often made with dyes that promote fungus growth.
- Cut toenails straight across – and not too short. Probably once a month. The best time to trim is after bathing as the nails will be softer then.
- Never trim cuticles. This can result in a point of entry for bacteria and fungus to grow and promote infection.
At least you can see that not all discoloration or deformation is a fungal infection. Take care of your nails, keeping ‘em dry, clean and trimmed will help. With any treatment continue until the nail fully grows out – which can be 9 – 12 months. There is more good info on the Fungus Facts page – check it out.
As with anything – it would be a good idea to see your doctor if your condition is severe. You may not have athlete’s foot, foot fungus or toe nail fungus. It might be an allergy or other skin condition that resembles it. Or it might be sensitivity to something your feet come in contact with. For instance: some gyms or public swimming facilities spray their floors in the shower areas with chemicals to keep germs and bacteria from spreading.