What Causes A Discolored Toenail

A discolored toenail usually means that something is wrong, and unless you have another obvious explanation, you should consider the possibility that you have a fungal nail infection. Other possible explanations would include a recent blow to the tip of the toe, causing bleeding and blackening under the nail, bacterial growth beneath the nail (often a green color), continuous use of nail polish on the nail, or some other uncommon medical condition. The problem, however, is usually fungus.

Fungi are capable of producing many colors, and the species that invade nails and cause a discolored toenail are no exception. In laboratory culture, the so-called dermatophytes are predominantly yellow, mahogany brown, or reddish, while saprophytic fungi that invade nails are often green, black or brown, or colorless. Though these fungi may not exhibit exactly the same characteristics when growing on a nail, they do often produce a yellow, brown or even black color. It generally starts out as a slight yellowish tinge to the nail, or even a white spot, but color develops more fully as the fungus begins to spread and mature.

In an advanced fungal nail infection, a discolored toenail is a minor symptom compared to the thick flaky distorted appearance of the nail and the discomfort of fungal spread to the skin of the toes. Once a nail infection has gone this far, it will be difficult to treat, and even with proper treatment it will probably take a long time to clear up. If you notice a discolored toenail, it’s best to take care of it right away. See your doctor to confirm that treatment for fungus is a sensible approach, and begin treatment immediately.

A fungal nail infection is easier to treat in its early stages. In lieu of expensive prescription drugs, many people choose a natural topical remedy. Some of the best contain tea tree oil, an essential oil of the tea tree that has been shown to have antifungal properties. Other natural remedies include an oral herbal treatment to aid the topical preparation, and there are many folk remedies for the condition as well.

The biggest challenge for any topical preparation is penetration of the nail so that the treatment can contact, and kill, the fungus. A thin discolored toenail in the early stages of infection will be more easily penetrated than a thick distorted toenail with advanced fungal growth – so treat your fungal nail infection now, before it gets worse.


  1. Just because someone has a toenail problem doesn't mean it's a fungus of sorts – what I have definitely isn't, that much I know. I saw enough of my son's fungi stuff when he was in high school to know what it looks like and this is not what I have. Thanks for helping the people that do, but it didn't help me. In my opinion it would be better to say, if it's black it might be this or if it's blue it's a possibility it's that instead of assuming it's a fungus. You asked, I responded! 🙂 Have a good day.

  2. wish it gave some OTC medications to try

  3. Some pictures would be nice and a chart showing pictures to possible causes or possible reasons health wise.

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