It is often difficult to discern a fungal infection from other causes of a thickened, discolored nail. We will often send a sample of the affected nail for further lab tests to verify the diagnosis.  The nail may be discolored due to trauma, such as bumping your toe even unknowingly or something falling on your foot.  Or, the cause may be micro trauma from a repetitive motion such as wearing tight shoes irritating the toenail or in athletes, runners, football players, dancers... you name it where the sport causes added stress on the tip of the toe. It can also be caused from shoe gear in a non-athlete. The toenail may have an irregular appearance because you may have the start of a bacterial infection, which needs immediate attention to prevent the infection from spreading.   If you have any questions about toenails, make and appointment at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle where we can diagnose the cause of your nail problem and work with you on treatment options.