Fungal infections of the toenail are quite common. Toenails can be especially susceptible to fungal infection due to the dark, moist environment of most shoes and stockings. A fungus can penetrate the skin through minor cuts, after injury, or if repeated irritation to the toes has caused the nail to separate from the nail bed.
Fungus can cause nails to thicken and discolor. As the fungus grows, foul-smelling, moist debris can be seen. Pressure from a thickened nail or the build up of debris may make the toe painful.
Treatment, as in most instances, is best begun early. Accumulation of debris can lead to ingrown nails or can spread to a more serious bacterial infection that can spread beyond the foot. Treatment may include filing the nail plate down to reduce its thickness, as well as prescribing oral and/or topical medication.