Does Toenail Fungus Resolve on Its Own?

Aug 08, 2023
Does Toenail Fungus Resolve on Its Own?
The medical world hates to say “never” because everyone is different. So, there’s a slight chance it could, but most experts agree that toenail fungus probably won’t resolve on its own. Learn why that is and why you shouldn’t ignore fungal nails.

Millions of Americans know what it’s like to have fungal nails spoil their pedicure. But did you know that toenail fungus (onychomycosis) can eventually cause pain and other complications, especially if it spreads from your nails to your skin?

Diagnosing and treating toenail fungus is one of our specialties at Kyrou Podiatry Associates in New York. We’re happy to provide information about toenail fungus, its causes, and why it’s important to clear the infection.  

Understanding toenail fungus

Medically known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus is a common infection that typically starts as a small yellow, whitish, or brown spot on the affected nail. 

Fueled by fungi such as dermatophytes invading nail tissue, the condition can eventually involve the entire nail, causing significant discoloration, thickening, and brittleness of the nails.

Unfortunately, the fungal infection can spread to other nails and from person to person with contact via shared shoes, grooming utensils, etc. 

A fungal nail infection also increases your risk of fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot. For people with diabetes, it also worsens your chance of developing diabetic foot ulcers and other health complications.

Anyone can develop fungal toenails, but your risk increases if you’re over 60 or live in a hot, humid climate where fungi thrive.

Other factors that increase the chance of developing fungal toenails include:

  • Health conditions such as diabetes
  • Problems with athlete’s foot or other fungal skin infections
  • Recent nail injury
  • History of psoriasis
  • Poor circulation in the legs and feet

Because fungi love warm, moist environments, frequent use of tight-fitting closed-toe shoes or going barefoot in locker rooms or public showers also put you at greater risk.

Can toenail fungus heal on its own?

The natural healing process varies significantly among individuals, depending on factors such as the severity of the infection, the type of fungus involved, and the body's immune response.

However, fungal infections are notoriously resistant to what your body’s defense system can deliver. So, while there is a slight possibility fungal nail infections could resolve without treatment, it’s very unlikely.

On the other hand, treatment can prevent complications, including:

  • Delayed healing
  • Spreading infection
  • Secondary bacterial infection
  • Ingrown nails
  • Discomfort with walking

Treatment for fungal nails also reduces or prevents worsening nail discoloration, thickening, crumbling, and other aesthetic changes.

How do you treat fungal toenails?

As with any service we offer at Kyrou Podiatry & Associates, treatment for fungal nails is customized to fit your needs.

The type of fungus and how it involves nail anatomy can affect healing and treatment. For instance, the most common fungal toenail infection (distal subungual onychomycosis) starts at the nail tip or edge and spreads from there. Nail discoloration with this type is generally white, brown, or yellow.

Other types can affect the top layers of the nail, the root of the nail, or the nail plate without involving the nail bed. Fungal melanonychia, a less common type of onychomycosis, causes the nail to turn dark brown or black.

Yeast onychomycosis, more commonly affecting the nailbeds, can indicate poorly managed diabetes or other immune disorder. Greenish nail discoloration could indicate a bacterial infection.

At Kyrou Podiatry Associates we treat Onychomycosis with topical or oral medication, laser therapy, or a combination of these. Laser treatment is effective in eradicating the fungus. It is performed in the office and is painless. 

Thus, your treatment strategy may include oral antifungal medications, antibiotics, topical antifungal treatments, or combination therapy.

Your podiatrist may recommend surgical removal of the affected nail for widespread infection. Depending on the type and extent of infection, the nail may take several months to regrow.   

Regardless of which type you’re experiencing, early diagnosis and treatment for a fungal toenail infection help prevent worsening.

Schedule an evaluation today by calling the Kyrou Podiatry Associates office or requesting an appointment online.