Accessibility Tools

Fungal Toenails

We've all seen toenails like these at the pool or in the shower at the gym. Yellow, thick, and/or discolored toenails all point to the same thing - fungus. It's an embarrassing condition, but it's also very common.

We urge patients to give us a call at the first sign of a fungal infection, because it can lead to permanent damage and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

If you didn't call at the first sign and it progressed, don't be embarrassed - I promise that we've seen worse! Besides, with advanced technology like Laser Therapy, there's no need to hide those toenails!


The risk factors for fungal toenails are actually behavioral. Most types of fungus — whether it’s growing on your lawn, your food or your foot – thrive in moist environments.

So if you spend a lot of time at public pools, at the gym or showering at the fitness center, there’s a good chance you will get one of these delightful little fungi at some point.

Or if you sweat a lot. Or wear air-tight shoes, which trap moisture.

Or especially if you sweat a lot and wear air-tight shoes. Foot fungi love that!

Fungal infections can also result from pedicures if the utensils are not properly sterilized.


The symptoms are fairly easy to recognize, with the most obvious sign being discoloration that starts as a yellowish or white spot just under the tip of the nail and darkens as it progresses throughout the nail.

Other symptoms include nails that are:

  • thickened
  • brittle
  • distorted
  • crumbling at the edges
  • detached

We can often diagnose the problem just by the appearance, but it will take testing a piece of the nail to pinpoint the exact type of fungal infection. So we may have to lightly scrape or clip the nail for testing.


The treatment will depend on the type and severity of the infection. Options for treatment include:

  • Prescribing an anti-fungal medication
  • Applying topical medications
  • Using an antifungal nail lacquer
  • Laser treatments

Over-the-counter creams do not eliminate most fungal infections, so we recommend you come in for an appointment rather than trying to treat this condition yourself. It typically won’t go away, and it’s likely to return and spread to other toes and maybe even other body parts if left untreated.

In more advanced or persistent cases, we might need to remove the nail, but only as a last resort. We’ll use a local anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain and a new toenail will most likely grow in its place.

Laser Therapy

Lexington Podiatry uses a FDA cleared laser to create an increase of clear nails in patients with Onychomycosis (toenail fungus).

The laser procedure is painless (only a slight warming sensation), non-invasive and treats the nail infection in the nail bed with no side effects.

The laser light passes through the toenail without causing damage to the nail or the surrounding skin.

One of the reasons that the laser is so effective is that the laser can penetrate the nail and reach the underlying fungus better than a topical cream alone.

At the time of the procedure, the toe nail will not become instantly clear, it takes time to grow out.