Toenail fungus or also known as onychomycosis, is a condition that starts as a yellow or white spot under the tip of your toenail. As the infection gets deeper, it may cause your nail to thicken and crumble at the edge and develop discoloration. Not only that, but it can also affect several nails. Toenail fungus can be painful because that is why it many need some self-care steps as well as medication to help it clear out. If you suspect you have one, you have to get it treated right away because if left neglected, the fungus can infect other areas between your toes and even the skin of your feet. That is why in this article, we are going to learn more about toenail fungus and how to treat it.
What are the Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
You may have toenail fungus if you notice your nails are:
- Has a whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
- Has a foul smell
- Has a distorted shape
- Crumbly, brittle, and has ragged edges
- Has a dark color which is usually caused by debris build-up under your nails.
Nail fungus can affect fingernails, too. However, it is more common in toenails.
What Can Cause Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is a fungal infection of the nails that are caused by various fungal organisms, the most common cause is the fungus called dermatophyte. However, molds and yeast can also cause nail infections to occur.
Fungal infection can happen to anyone at any age, but it is commonly seen in older adults. As the nail ages, it becomes dry and brittle, making it more prone to fungal and bacterial infections. Other factors such as a weakened immune system and reduced blood circulation to the feet can also play a role.
Toenail fungus can start from the athlete’s foot, and it can affect one toenail to another if left untreated. Please take note that it is pretty uncommon to catch a toenail fungi infection from someone else.
Can Toenail Fungus Develop Complications?
If toenail fungus infection turns severe, it can cause permanent damage to your nails, and it can be uncomfortable and painful. Not only that, but it can also lead to other serious infections that can spread not only to your feet, especially if you have a suppressed immune system because of diabetes, medication, and other medical conditions.
Having diabetes means that you have a decreased nerve supply and blood circulation in your feet. You can also be more at risk of catching a bacterial skin infection. That is why a minor injury to your feet, such as a toenail infected can develop into a more severe complication. If you have diabetes and think you’re developing toenail fungus, see your doctor right away.
Who Are More at Risk of Developing Toenail Fungus?
These are the factors that can increase your risk of having toenail fungus.
- If you sweat heavily.
- If you’re old, because of reduced blood flow to your feet and slower growing nails.
- If you have a history of athlete’s foot.
- If you have diabetes, blood circulation problems, or a weakened immune system.
- If you have a nail or skin injury.
- If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis.
- If you always walk barefoot in damp communal areas such as shower rooms, swimming pools, and gyms.
How Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus?
Here are some tips to help prevent toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, or reinfections:
- Always opt for a nail salon that uses clean and sterilized manicure and pedicure tools for each customer.
- Wear comfortable shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
- Do not wear old and tight shoes.
- Treat your shoes with antifungal powders or disinfectants.
- Wear absorbent socks or change your socks throughout the day.
- Always wash your feet and hands regularly. Remember to wash your hands if you touch an infected nail because it can spread the infection.
- Remember to moisturize your nails after washing them.
- As much as possible, avoid using nail polish and artificial nails.
- When you’re trimming your nails, always remember to trim them across and smoothen the edges using a nail file. Do not forget to file down the thickened areas.
- After cutting your nails, remember to disinfect the tools you use to prevent the infection from spreading to another nail.