13 Toenail Fungus Causes You Should Know (Common Triggers)

A toenail is a vital part of the body. It is a claw-like plate located at the tip of the toes. It is made of a tough protein that protects against irritants called alpha-keratin, the same protein that makes up the hair, fingernails, and skin. This keratin is tough and strong enough for everyday use. Toenails are comparable to an armor that protects the bones beneath the nails from harm by serving as a stronger extra layer. Toenails are also used to assist the person in picking things up, picking things off, and holding tightly.

Since toenails are the outer layer protector of the bones, they are susceptible to diseases from outside invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The most common infection in the toenail is called nail fungus. 

Nail fungus starts with a discoloration in the nail. It is usually seen as white or yellow-brown dots underneath the tip of the toenail. As it goes deeper, the nail changes color, thickens, and crumbles at the edges. It can affect many nails at once and is mild in general. But when the fungus has thickened, it will cause pain. 

This article lists the most common causes of toenail fungus.

Nail Injury or Foot Deformity

A nail injury is any damage to the nail that comes from acute or blunt trauma. It can be considered a nail injury when any part of the nail, such as the nail itself, nail bed, cuticle, and the skin around the nail, is affected. When the toenails suffer from a trauma or injury, it creates an opening for the fungi to enter the nails. 

The damage and the symptoms of nail fungus are similar. It commonly starts with discoloration and may thicken as time goes by. The main difference is the degree of pain and when it starts. The pain from toenail fungus only occurs when the disease is severe, while the pain acquired on a nail injury is immediately felt and may cause intolerable pain. 

A fungi-causing toenail fungus may infect the nail by entering into a crack in the nail. The injury or damage serves as a gateway for the fungi to start spreading in the body. It is much easier for the fungi to enter if the toenail has an opening through the skin.