Most people first consider the white discoloration of the toenail to be a fungal infection of the toenail. This indeed can be the cause of the white appearance. Fungus is an opportunist that lives naturally on our feet and in our shoes. If there is any injury to our toenails, the fungus can infect the toenail, which causes the nail to become thickened and discolored. Fungal toenails can be managed in a variety of ways. Medication applied to the toenail, such as Formula 3, are useful for mild and moderate toenail infections. Oral medication, such as Lamisil, and the new laser treatment are appropriate for moderate to severe infections. As the fungus resolves, the white surface of the toenail should clear as well. Your podiatrist will be able to advise you about the best treatment for your fungal toenails.
Fungus is not the only cause of a discolored toenail. Trauma can also cause the nail to become discolored, deformed, and thickened. Depending on where on the toenail is injuried, will determine how it effects the toenail. If the trauma is to the nail itself, often resulting in bleeding beneath the toenail, the damage can be temporary. There will be discoloration to the toenail, because it is lifted from the nail bed, but often will resolve on it's own as the nail grows out. It is useful to use a topical anti fungal medication to ensure that the damage to the nail will not cause a fungus infection to occur.
When the toenail is damaged at the matrix, the group of cells responsible for growing the toenail, the damage can be permanent. This results in a continued thickening of the toenail and a persistant white discoloration. While there may be a fungus infection of the toenail at the beginning, use of an anti fungal medication will not fully change the toenail's appearance. In these cases, using an conditioner for the toenail will help to improve the appearance of the toenail.
Toenails also develop a white discoloration due to damage from toenail polish and toenail polish remover. Most nail polish have chemicals, such as formaldehyde and toluene, that dry and damage the toenails. Nail polish remover also has chemicals, such as acetone, that does the same. Using a healthy nail polish and remover, such as Dr.'s Remedy, that does not contain these chemicals is the best of both worlds. It allows women to wear a stylish polish without the damage to the nails. The polish even had vitamins and natural antifungals to keep the nails even healthier.
Don't let a white, discolored toenail go unchecked. Visit with your podiatrist to learn what solution is best for you.
Houston Podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider is a foot doctor dedicated to maintaining the health and safety of the feet of his patients and educating the public on foot health. Visit his website for informative articles, frequently asked questions, and comprehensive video library