Chalky White Toenails

Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated January 15, 2020)


There is nothing pretty about chalky white toenails, especially if there is a foul smell coming from them. A foul smell from the toenails is a good sign that it is a toenail fungus (known as onychomycosis). If the toenails are fragile, chalky, or crumbly then you can be pretty sure that the problem is a toenail fungus. It is not an uncommon problem; more than twenty percent of the population suffers with toenail fungus.

Toenail fungus usually begins with a soft yellow material that is found at the small end of the nail and the nail bed. With time the soft yellow material begins to spread. The toenail begins to get thick and turns yellow with white streaks and spots showing on the nail. If left untreated the nail will eventually grow fragile, become chalky and then eventually will be crumbly. The fungus will continue to grow more severe till the nail actually crumbles away, and can even spread to the other toenails.

In the beginning the infection maybe painless, but with time there will be some pain and discomfort associated with the infection which will make it hard to walk or do other activities.

Several things can cause a person to get the fungus:

  • Damage to the nail
  • Warm, moist shoes
  • Shoes that is too tight
  • Walking barefoot in public areas

To help prevent getting toenail fungus there are several things that can be done such as:

  • Inspect your toes and feet regularly
  • Keep toes and feet clean and dry
  • Wash your feet with soap and water daily
  • Change your socks daily
  • Let your shoes air out
  • Wear proper fitting shoes
  • Clip toenails straight across
  • Make sure that the toenails don't go beyond the tip of the toe
  • If your feet get moist a lot, use foot powder

Toenail fungus can be treated effectively, but it may take as long as three months to a year, depending on how severe the problem is. If you suspect that the problem is a toenail fungus then you will want to see a podiatrist right away. The podiatrist will treat the problem with an oral medication, a topical medication, or may have to remove the diseased nail and debris that is around the toenail.

If you can't get in to see the podiatrist right away there are a couple of things that can be done at home that may help. Some home remedy suggestions are:

  • You can buy an over-the-counter medication by the name of Funginix.
  • Rub Vick's VapoRub onto the nail. (You will want to wear socks to bed; the VapoRub will stain your bed linen.)
  • Soak the toes in a mixture of half Listerine and half vinegar. (Not the minty blue Listerine—it will turn your toes and feet blue.)

Remember that this problem took some time to get to the point where you noticed it. You will need to have patience and allow time for a new nail to grow and allow the healing process to work.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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What is 2 + 5?

2014-04-07 04:32:36

Thea James

I have had a white chalky substance under my two big toes for at least six years and my chiropodist has never told me it is fungus. However, it does not look good and is sore after I try to cut it out. So I went online and found a clip of an American women administering a mix of a whole clove of crushed garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil to the tips of a patients toes and wrapping it in cling film for 24 hours. This was the cure. I couldn't keep it on for 24 hours but I did for six and washed it off with vinegar and put Vicks on overnight. In the morning my toes looked quite normal again - I am 76 and maybe there is still a bit there but I am continuing with Vicks and hoping for the best. Thea James.