Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Toenail infection

Toenail infection
beginning of content

Toenail infection

Toenail infections are common. If you have one, your toenail changes colour and it can be uncomfortable, but there are many ways of treating it.

What is a toenail infection?

A toenail infection occurs when bacteria or a fungus grows on or under your nail.

You might notice the following symptoms:

  • your nail becomes thicker
  • you have spots or stripes on the nail
  • the nail has crumbling edges
  • you feel pain.

If you have diabetes, it is important to see your doctor as soon as symptoms appear. A toenail infection can cause complications.

What are the causes of a toenail infection?

Toenail infections are mainly caused by a fungus. Feet are an ideal place for fungi to grow. They grow well in warm, moist places.

They can also be caused by bacteria, which can get under your toenail if your skin gets damaged.

Toenail infection diagnosis

Your doctor can tell you if you have a toenail infection. They can scrape a sample from your nail for testing. If you see a podiatrist, they can:

  • look at your feet
  • diagnose foot and nail diseases
  • suggest treatment.

The Australian College of Dermatologists recommend that a toenail infection is confirmed by a laboratory sample prior to prescribing treatment. This is because 50% of thickened and distorted toenails are caused by a condition other than a fungal nail infection, such as pressure from footwear, trauma, or disorders such as psoriasis. For more information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Toenail infection treatment

Treatment of a toenail infection depends on the cause. Treatments include:

  • taking antibiotics or antifungal medicines
  • removing the infected nail
  • using antifungal nail paints.

Toenail infection prevention

You can help prevent a toenail infection by:

  • ensuring your feet are dried properly
  • wearing clean socks
  • wearing open-toed shoes
  • wearing footwear in public showers
  • using an antifungal spray in your shoes.

Last reviewed: May 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 4962 results

Fungal nail problems - myDr.com.au

Fungal nail infections: risk factors, symptoms, treatment and how to prevent fungal infections of the nails.

Read more on myDr website

Salmonella infection

Salmonella infection (also known as salmonellosis) is an infection of the digestive tract (or gut), caused by Salmonella bacteria.

Read more on WA Health website

Campylobacter infection

Campylobacter infection (also known as campylobacteriosis) is an infection of the digestive tract (or gut), caused by Campylobacter bacteria.

Read more on WA Health website

Boils and Skin Infections

Boils and skin infections are usually caused by bacteria. Avoid sharing items and wash hands thoroughly, especially after touching skin infections.

Read more on NSW Health website

Listeria infection

Listeria infection (also known as listeriosis) is a rare but potentially severe illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

Read more on WA Health website

Pneumococcal infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Pneumococcal infection - pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious lung infection which can be fatal, especially in the elderly or infants

Read more on SA Health website

Giardia infection (giardiasis)

Giardia infection causes an illness called giardiasis.

Read more on WA Health website

Urinary tract infection (UTI) - myDr.com.au

Urinary tract infection occurs when part of the urinary tract becomes infected. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria and generally clear up with a course of antibiotics.

Read more on myDr website

Ear infections

It is estimated that around four out of five children will experience a middle ear infection at least once.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Colds & upper respiratory tract infections | Raising Children Network

A cold is a type of upper respiratory tract infection. You cant cure a cold, but treating the symptoms can help your child feel more comfortable.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback