Fungal nail infection
Everything you need to know and more
Fungal nail infection: An infected toenail (toenail fungus) can cause nuisance, pain, and can damage the appearance of the nails. There are a few reasons why toenails get infected. If the toe is red, swollen or sore, it may have been infected by bacteria or fungus. The person with infected nails may also be suffering from a disease that affects the immune system like diabetes. If you think you have an infected toenail or ingrown toenail, we’ll talk more about it here.
Causes of an infected toenail (what will cause fungal nail)
Infected toenails could be originating from the skin infections around the nails called paronychia. Below are a few causes of infected toenails:
- Cutting the nails too short or cutting the cuticle around the nails too short
- Ingrown nails where the nail grows in a direction that punctures the skin
- You have nail fungus
- You have callus
- Your feet are frequently wet
Toenail infection caused by fungus
Nail fungus or onychomycosis can be easily detected. People with this disease have nails that change in appearance. In most cases, nail fungus can be painful. A person's nails with onychomycosis turn yellow, you will see a thickened nail, rough, or may cause the nails to crumble. Streaks on the side of the nail may also appear, and sometimes, patients completely lose the infected nail. The toenail with fungi may also change its color to brown, yellow or white.
Organisms like dermatophytes, Candida (yeast) and non-dermatophyte moulds cause the start of onychomycosis infection. Such organisms live in dark and damp places where a person can get a fungal infection.
People at any age can have a fungal nail disease, but it’s more common in adults.
As people age, the nails become drier and more brittle. When the nails crack, this is where fungi can enter and infect the rest of the nails. Although humans normally have fungi inside and outside the body, the time the number of fungus overgrows, it’s where the symptoms of infection begin.
Causes of nail fungus
- Trauma such as wounds or cuts in the nails that permits the fungus to enter the nail or nail bed
- Irregular or abnormal PH level of the skin
- Failing to completely dry off the feet after shower or exercise
- Using closed footwear that does not let the feet to “breathe”
- Older people and people with diabetes are more susceptible to nail fungus due to their compromised immune system.
- Roots of toenail infection
- Hygiene. Hygiene plays an important role in the growth of fungal infection. People who borrow shoes or socks from a person with nail fungus may be infected with the disease. Failing to completely dry off the feet after shower or exercise may also allow the growth of fungus in the nails. In most cases, fungal infection of the nails begins in athlete’s foot. In relation to that, athletes are susceptible to having fungus infected nails.
- Damaged nails. Fungus can enter the bed of the nails if the nails become damaged. Nails that had trauma, wounds or cuts would allow the fungus to pass through the nail and the nail bed where onychomycosis infection begins.
- Weak immune system. Old people, diabetics and individuals with compromised immune system are more susceptible to acquiring fungal nail infection. Irregular or abnormal PH level of the skin may also cause a person to have the disease.
Treating infected toenails
Tea tree oil
Although, there’s no scientific basis that tea tree oil can cure nail fungus, it’s a popular natural remedy for this disease. Some people claim that tea tree oil can eliminate fungus by mixing a carrier oil with tea tree oil, and applying it to the affected nails.
Because the fungus grows in acidic environments, baking soda can help balance the pH level of the infected area like the toes. Just soak your toes in hot water and baking soda, which can prevent the fungus from spreading.
Oregano oil has antibacterial and antifungal nail properties that could eliminate nail fungus, which causes yellow toenails. Apply oregano oil mixed with a carrier oil to the affected nails.
Antifungal medication is often prescribed by doctors when treating fungal nails. This antifungal treatment will be discussed below.
Antifungal nail paints
Treating fungal nail infections with antifungal nail paints is not something we recommend. It is just not a serious option to prevent fungal nails. It may cover up the problem temporally, but does not prevent fungal nails.
Laser fungal nail infection treatment use light-activated agents onto the nail followed by a light with a particular wavelength. Leading foot clinics use cutting-edge lasers to eliminate the nail fungus, and bring back healthy nails. In our experience this is the only really effective fungal nail treatment, with virtually no risk factors or side effects.
How Laser Treats Nail Fungus
Lasers have a growing use both in the clinical and aesthetic field. The continuous improvement allows lasers to evolve, which expands its capacity even more as time goes. A laser is also used to treat and kill fungi that cannot be easily cured with oral and topical drugs. Lasers produce a coherent light energy at a specific wavelength, which, when aimed at a particular target is absorbed differently, destroying cells or organisms using heat. Other tissues than the target are not affected by the laser. The nail fungus is treated by heating the infected area to the point it can kill the harmful organisms, and discourage any possible growth in the future. Other lasers used to treat fungi are fractional Cos laser that burn holes in the nail plate, so topical antifungal medications can penetrate, and effect faster.
How to prevent the toenails from getting infected?
You can prevent your toenails from being infected, and avoid more serious risks of the infection. Below are a few tips about how you can avoid your toes from getting infected by a bacteria or fungus.
- Avoid cutting your nails and your nail cuticles too short.
- Keep your nails hygienic. Go to professional manicurists to regularly to get your nails done.
- Do not borrow other people’s nail tools.
- Make sure you have completely dried your feet after showering or bathing. You can use a hair dryer and set it on a low setting to dry off your feet, and prevent any formation of fungi.
- Never take off your shoes when walking in locker rooms, public showers or around public swimming pools.
- Prefer wearing synthetic socks that remove moisture from your feet. You must also change socks during the day if your feet sweat a lot.
- Wear shoes with breathable materials, and fit just right – not too tight or too loose.
- Avoid using socks and stockings that are too tight, and can trap moisture between your toes.
- Never pull or remove the skin around your toenails.
- Get an antifungal spray or powder and put it in your shoes or on your feet.
- Make sure your pedicure tools are always clean and disinfected. If you have a pedicure salon, tell your Manicurists and Pedicurists to do the same.
- Never cover up your infected nails with nail polish. It can trap the moisture and heat, which can worsen the condition.
A toe fungus is a common disease among the adult population. As a matter of fact, nearly 20 percent of adults worldwide have toe fungus. This nail condition can change the appearance of the toenails, making it thick, crumbly, and have discolorations. Unhealthy nails are not only painful to see, it’s can also be literally painful. If you have toe fungus, don’t worry. There are ways to get rid of the infection, and prevent it from coming back. In this chapter, we’ll discuss all about toe fungus.
If you are not sure if what you have is toe fungas, a good place to check symptoms is health az. If you go through that HSE site, there is a symptom checker or health check which goes through most health conditions including fungal nail infection symptoms. If your symptoms include heel pain, foot pain and you also have high blood pressure, check on the website for diabetes foot or how to treat athletes foot.
What is fungal toenail infection?
Also known as onychomycosis, toe fungus is a disease caused by a group of fungi called dermophytes. These microorganisms thrive in moist, warm, and dark areas that are not reached by sunlight. They can live in the skin and on keratin, which are the main components of hair and nails. The fungus damages the nails where it lives. Nails infected with nail fungus may appear thicker, crumbly, rough, and turn yellow, green or black. In severe cases, the nails separate from the nail bed, which can cause pain to the person infected. The fungi can spread on the skin, and to other nails of the feet and hands.
What are the symptoms of toe fungus?
There are symptoms to look out for if you suspect you have toe fungus. It’s important to identify the signs early to prevent the infection from spreading and getting worse. Below are some symptoms of onychomycosis:
- Changing color of the toe nails. The nails become yellow, green, with white spots, or black.
- Foul odor comes off from the nails.
- The nails separate from the nail bed.
- The toe nails begin to crumble.
- The nails start to split.
- The nails become chalky or scaly.
- There’s unusual dirt or debris under the nails that’s difficult to clean.
Why toe fungus happens?
There are various causes of toe fungus. It could be due to the person’s immune system, the person’s hygiene, or lifestyle. Because the organisms that cause the disease thrive in dark, moist and warm environment, people who have frequently wet feet may have the infection. If the toenails get damaged, the fungi may enter the nail bed and start the infection. Cutting the skin around the nails may also give way to the fungi to enter the nails.
Who are at risk for toe fungus?
Men are more likely affected by toe fungus than women. Older people are also more prone to onychomycosis than younger individuals. Below are contributing factors to get infected with toe fungus:
- Frequently wet feet
- Walking barefoot in communal showers, gym, or public swimming pools.
- Using shoes that are too tight.
- Sweaty feet.
- Damaged nails.
- Taking medications that weaken the immune system.
- Genetic hereditary nail condition.
- People with diabetes type 1 and 2.
- People with circulatory health problems.
- People with psoriasis.
Treating toe fungus
You have various options when it comes to remedies for toenail fungus. There are home remedies that you can use to get rid of the fungi in the nails (you may be wasting your time with your home remedy), and there are medications, as well as therapies done by doctors and physicians. If you have toe fungus, you can try any of these methods to get rid of the infection:
- Wash the nails with soap and water regularly.
- Groom your nails regularly, and apply urea cream on the infected nails. Leave the cream for a few minutes, wash off, and clean the nails using a nail file.
- Apply tea tree oil in the nails. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil or olive oil, and apply gently onto the nails. Leave for a few minutes, and then brush the nails using an old toothbrush.
- Soak your feet in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, and soak the infected toe for 30 minutes or more. Do it daily.
- Apply snake root extracts on the infected nails.
- Soak your feel in white vinegar and water mixture. Follow the same instructions with apple cider vinegar.
So what are the medical options for nail fungus treatment? Your doctor or physician may prescribe medications that can help improve the toe fungus. The drugs can be in the form of topical creams, oral drugs or combination of both. There are also surgical procedures and laser treatments that can cure the infected nails. Below are some of the medical treatments you can consider to get rid of nail fungi:
- Topical creams
- Oral antifungal medications / antifungal drugs
- Laser therapy
- Surgery of the nails
Ways to avoid toe fungus
Prevention is better than cure. There are many ways to avoid getting infected with nail fungus and keep your healthy nail. The following tips can also be used by people who had nail fungi, and want to prevent the infection from coming back.
- Keep your feet clean at all times. Use soap and water for cleaning the feet, and keep it completely dry before putting on socks or shoes. Foot care is very important.
- Always keep your feet dry. Do not wear shoes or socks when your feet are still wet. Make sure to dry off the feet before wearing anything on your feet.
- Apply foot powder to your feet if you have sweaty feet.
- Use cotton socks that don’t make your feet sweat.
- Use comfortable shoes that are not too tight, and let the feet breathe.
- Use slip-ons when walking in communal showers, gym or public swimming pools.
- Regularly groom your nails.
- Disinfect your nail cleaning tools.
- Refrain from borrowing other people’s nail tools.
- Get new shoes and do not use your old shoes if you had toe fungus.
Why you need to treat toe fungus
Although, in most cases, toe fungus can bring no harm to the infected person, getting the infection can lower down self-esteem. Because the fungi change the appearance of the nails, you cannot hide your nails forever with nail polish or anything that can conceal the nail’s condition. Leaving infected nails untreated, may also cause the fungi to spread to other nails of the feet and hand. It can get severe, which can cause pain, and affect the quality of life. Therefore, once you notice the early signs of toe fungus, get it treated immediately.
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