If the tips of your toenails or fingernails develop white or yellow marks, you may have a nail fungus. If left untreated, the discoloration can increase, the nails may thicken and the edges will begin to crumble. Nail fungus can be a painful and embarrassing condition. The fungi dermatophytes, along with molds and yeasts, can cause fungal infections. These organisms live in warm, damp environments such as showers or swimming pools. They enter the skin at the point of separation between the nail bed and nail, or through cuts. The infection is often difficult to treat and, once treated, may reoccur.
Take an oral medication, such as terbinafine or itraconazole, if prescribed by your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, your doctor might consider this treatment if you have diabetes or a history of cellulitis, if you are experiencing pain or the infection is very unsightly.
Apply an antifungal lacquer, such as ciclopirox, to a mild or moderate infection, if prescribed by your doctor. Once a day, the polish is painted on the nail and surrounding area, and after a week, the layers are cleaned off and you begin a new daily application for another week. This treatment regimen might continue for a year.
Undergo surgery to remove the nail to treat severe cases of nail fungus. Usually, a new nail will grow back. If the nail bed suffers severe damage from the infection, the nail may not grow back.