Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a type of infection beneath the nail’s surface caused by fungi. This specific skin condition is often referred to as tinea unguium, Latin meaning “fungus of the nails.” Fungi are tiny organisms originating in moist and dark spaces, such as underneath and around your toenails.
If you’re wondering if you have a fungal infection, take note of these telltale signs: your nails become discolored, they begin to smell, debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate (sometimes these include dents and pits), and sometimes the infection can spread to other toenails (this happens quite often actually!), or even infect other parts of your body like fingernails. It can worsen and spread from your nails to other body parts if you ignore fungus. The bad news is that the fungus will hurt, but there may also be a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or around the nail plate, causing severe issues.
What are the causes of Toenail Fungus?
It is essential to protect your nails. Injury to the nail bed can result in real problems, including fungal infection. One of the most common causes of toenail fungus is trauma! Any type of trauma (big, small, micro) can lift the nail off of the nailbed (skin), allowing moisture to enter, creating a perfect habitat for fungus. Patients often will remember “kicking or stubbing” their toe before they developed toenail fungus.
People with certain conditions, such as diabetes and poor circulation, are prone to this problem. Additionally, one may be more susceptible if they have a history of athlete’s foot or excessive sweating. Read more about keeping your feet clean and fungus-free if you have never heard of this kind of parasitic skin disease before.
What are the typical Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is frequently ignored by sufferers, as it can be present for years without any pain or other symptoms. Contagious through skin/nail contact and via shoes/bare feet, this gradual disease is characterized by progressive changes in the quality and color of a toenail. This infection, both ugly and embarrassing, impacts all of the sufferer’s daily activities – reducing his/her confidence in social situations.
How you can treat Toenail Fungus at Home
You may feel that daily applications of antifungal creams or liquids can keep your nails contained, but this is not always the case. With a clean slate and periodic applications, you may still deal with persistent toenail fungus. These types of infections are tough to treat on your own, so it’s best to turn to a professional for advice when you need reliable nail fungus treatment.
Should you see a Podiatrist?
If you notice discoloration, thickening, or deformity of your toes, it is critical to see a podiatrist as soon as possible! Research has shown that the earlier these abnormal symptoms are treated by a professional, the greater your chance is of preserving your toenails and keeping them looking nice and healthy.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It might not be the most pleasant thought, but your feet have a lot of fungi inside of them. That’s because hundreds of thousands of organisms live naturally in each one. However, there are rare times when one is exposed to an infection, and oozing yellowish puss starts coming out from under the nails. If you see this or experience any other similar signs, you should speak with a podiatrist expert for diagnosis and treatment as soon possible! There are multiple treatments for nail fungal infections (or ringworm), from oral antifungal medication to topical application and even surgical intervention – whatever is most suitable depending on the nature and severity of the infection itself.
Applying antifungal cream to your nails is an effective and common treatment method. Some topical treatments include a laser procedure, which involves attacking the fungi with a high-intensity light source, or oral medication (oral azole medications like ketoconazole). These may work more quickly than topical treatments.
When a nail becomes infected and painful for prolonged periods, it can be challenging to cope with. Visiting the doctor to assess your condition may lead to the recommendation of surgery being performed to remedy the problem at hand. Surgical treatment may be required to dispose of the infected nail to remove visible signs of fungus amongst other debris beneath the nail plate. This procedure can permit direct application of a topical antifungal cream right onto where it will do some good. Surgically removing a chronically diseased, pain-inducing nail can significantly reduce the appearance of fungus while addressing other potential symptoms like deformed nail growth. Preventing reoccurrence will also be accessible by not having any more damaged nails, so cut them off when you can!
Trying to solve the infection without the qualified help of a podiatrist can lead to further issues. With new technical advances combined with simple preventive measures, treating this lightly regarded health issue can often be successful.
Prevention is the best cure. To maintain good hygiene, always wash your feet regularly and dry them thoroughly, which helps prevent nasty infections on the skin. It would also help inspect your feet every day for any fungal growth or unusual bumps indicating an upcoming infection.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and are made of breathable materials.
- Keep your toenails trimmed straight across, so the nail doesn’t go beyond the tip of the toe.
- Make sure to wash your feet with mild soap and water, and make sure you dry them very well after.
- If you take showers in public areas, wear shower shoes or sandals.
- Change your socks 2-3 times a day if possible.
- Disinfect toenail clippers and other home footcare items before using.
- Treat athlete’s foot if it is present.
- Avoid wearing tight socks or hosiery to help decrease moisture.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to our podiatrist, feel free to contact us!