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Does Toenail Fungus Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

Toenail fungus is another name for a condition called onychomycosis. It is a fungal infection of the toenail that starts with a white spot underneath your nail. As it progresses, it may cause discolouration or distortion of your nail, make it thickened and brittle. It may be painful at times.

Does Toenail Fungus Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

Does Toenail Fungus Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

Toenail fungus is difficult to cure. It may take months for any treatment to start showing significant results on the infection. Sometimes, it may even reappear after it is cured completely. As it takes quite a long time to get better, it may appear that the condition is getting worse. It is also possible that even after worsening so much, it starts getting better. Hence, you may feel that it has gotten worse before getting better. The bottom line is, toenail fungus is quite difficult to treat, and it may take weeks to get better.

Other Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus

Other symptoms of toenail fungus may include one or many of the following symptoms-

  • The infected nail may get thickened
  • It may discolour and turn white, yellow, green brown or black in color
  • The affected nail may become so brittle that it may crumble even upon the slightest touch
  • The affected nail may change its shape or become distorted.
  • It may curl upwards or downwards
  • The nails may become dark in color because of remains getting collected underneath it
  • The infected nail may start to smell a little foul
  • There may be a pain upon pressure in the affected nail and the area nearby, if the condition worsens
  • In severe condition, the nail may loosen from the nail bed (1)

Causes Of Toenail Fungus

Different types of fungus are responsible for causing toenail fungus. The commonest of them is a fungus known as dermatophyte. Yeast and molds may also be responsible for causing toenail fungus. (1)

  • Toenail fungus is more commonly seen in older people, though it can be seen in people of any age group
  • The nail becomes brittle and dry naturally due to the aging process
  • This brittleness may cause cracks in the nails which allow for an easy entry for the fungus into the nail
  • A compromised immune system or a decreased blood circulation to the legs may also be responsible for an increased risk of getting toenail fungus
  • A history or an acute condition of athlete’s foot may also cause the fungus to spread to the nails. Also, it can spread from one toenail to the other

Toenail fungus is contagious, but it is highly unlikely that you may get it from someone just by minimal contact. However, a close contact with someone infected may pass on the infection to you as well (1,2)

Prevention Of Toenail Fungus

Exercising a few measures may stop recurrent episodes of toenail fungus and may also help in preventing it in healthy people. These may include-

  • Washing your hand and feet regularly and also after coming in contact with an infected nail
  • Keeping your nails moisturised after washing
  • Trimming the nails straight
  • Smoothening the edges of the nails after trimming
  • Filing down any thickened nails
  • Disinfecting the nail clippers after using them every time
  • Wearing breathable socks and shoes
  • Or changing the socks frequently during the day
  • Treating old shoes with disinfectants and antifungals or discarding them if needed
  • Protecting your feet in public shower areas like swimming pools, gyms etc.
  • Using sterilized instruments for manicure and pedicure
  • Avoiding nail polishes, nail enamels and artificial nails


Toenail fungus may take several weeks to get cured. It may even reappear after a successful treatment. Hence, it may seem as if it isn’t getting better or has become worse. The recovery largely depends upon the severity of the condition and the type of fungus involved in the infection.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 16, 2019

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