If you're like most people, you probably take your toenails for granted. But if a problem develops, you'll be glad to know that keeping your toenails healthy is easier than you might think. Healthy toenails are pink, shiny and smooth, but if they become infected, they can turn brown, yellow or green and become rough and bumpy. Fungal infections can cause excruciating pain, so it's important to get them treated as soon as possible.
Toenail fungus is a condition that many people deal with at some point in their lives. It is caused by an overgrowth of fungus on the toenail surface. The fungus can grow into large patches, making the toenail look yellow, green, or black and causing pain when the toenail is touched. There are several different treatments for toenail fungus, and it is important to choose the one that is best suited for the individual.
Toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is a common but challenging condition. The fungus can affect any toe and often grows rapidly, causing pain and inflammation. Toenail fungus treatments include a wide range of options with varying success rates. Some treatments work quickly, but others may take several weeks or even months to work. Treatment options may include topical creams, oral antibiotics, or surgery.
Fungal nail infections are usually caused by fungi called dermatophytes that infect the skin beneath the nail. Yeast is another common culprit. Toenails are especially vulnerable to infection when you wear shoes that are too tight or have poor ventilation. You can prevent these infections by keeping your nails trimmed short and free of debris, wearing socks when you're not going to be walking around outside, and washing your hands regularly.
Wearing closed shoes such as athletic shoes for extended periods also can contribute to infection if your shoes and or socks are damp from perspiration or heat. Moreover, if your shoes fit snugly enough to restrict circulation, they can become a hotbed for bacteria. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing wet or sweaty shoes is one of five things that increase your chances of getting an infection.
Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, can increase the risk of developing toenail infections. People with these diseases may also experience more pain and inflammation in their feet, making them more susceptible to this type of infection. In addition, people with chronic conditions may have a weakened immune system, which can make them more likely to develop a toenail infection.
Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is a fungal infection that can affect the nails. The fungus lives on the surface of the nails and can cause them to grow slowly or not at all. Some people may not notice any symptoms at first, but over time the fungus can cause pain and difficulty walking. Toenail fungus can be treated with antibiotics or antifungals, but it is important to get it checked out by a doctor if you have persistent symptoms. Symptoms can include:
- A yellowish discoloration is at the top of the nail.
- The darkening or clouding of nails.
- Dark spots on fingernails can have a whiter compound.
- The nail hardens.
- Stud nail shape was distorted.
- Brittle or crumbling nails is a property of the brittle nails.
- A lack of light has a negative impact on a shine.
- Lengthening of toes is the primary symptom of toe pain.
- Rotten odor is also known as foul odor.
- The nail begins to break apart from the nail bed.
If your symptoms are severe or cause pain, or your toenail turns brown or black, it's best to make an appointment with your primary care doctor or podiatrist instead of trying to treat it yourself. Many people try to treat minor foot and toe problems at home without consulting a doctor first, but this can often lead to bigger problems that require more extensive treatment.
Toenail Fungus Treatments
Fungal forms of toenails often require a permanent strategy of eliminating infection, such as adhering to the instructions laid out below. The longer the fungus stays in the nail, the longer it will need to heal. Apply the prescribed medication to the affected toenail multiple times daily. These treatments are typically undesirable and may need to be used for years for deeper inflammation to go away:
- Tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil both have antifungal properties, and studies found them to perform almost as effectively as many over-the-counter and prescription medications.
- A study in Brazil revealed that sunflower oil was effective against toenail infection caused by a yeast infection.
- Baking soda A group of researchers found that baking soda prevented the growth of fungi in 79% of the samples studied. Use a paste made by combining baking soda and water to the affected fingernail and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- A very small study found that Vicks VapoRub ointment had a positive effect on toenail fungus.
- Several other home remedies with regard to toenail fungus have also been explored in clinical studies, but the findings haven't been significant. Vinegar and in some cases hydrogen peroxide are two other treatments with clinical backing that have been shown to be effective.
If you continue to be bothered by your symptoms with over-the-counter treatment, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a podiatrist. They may suggest a prescription-strength topical medication, or an oral anti-fungal pill that you will need to take for two to three months. Oral treatment is usually more effective but may interact with other drugs. Also, oral treatment can damage the liver.
The toenail fungus laser treatment solution can give temporary relief from the nail, but its treatment rate is lower than that of oral medication.
The worst cases of a nail infection won't respond to treatment. If the infection is not healed and all attempts to repair the nail fail, then it may be surgically removed to eliminate the infected nail bed. Once the bed is healed, a healthy nail can grow back.
Fortunately, some cases of toenail fungus are singularly reducible. There may be a significant failure rate of up to 40%.
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Preventing Toenail Fungus
Take these steps to keep your toenails healthy and your toenails stay strong:
- Clean and dry your feet well after swimming.
- Shower shoes are usually worn in locker rooms and public restrooms.
- Examine your choices carefully when buying shoes. Choose ones that are well-made and will be comfortable for long wear.
- Remove wet socks or shoes immediately and air dry your feet.
- Disinfect nail clippers and home pedicure equipment.
- Make certain that your nail salon follows public officials' guidelines for sterilizing equipment and using disinfectant materials. Wash your feet, then, if you have gone to get pedicures.
- Avoid applying polish to damaged nails.
- Treat the infection if you have athlete's foot.