Howard County Foot & Ankle

What is Toenail Fungus and How Do You Deal with It?

Foot & Ankle Insights
toenail fungus

Any person can have an infection if they get in contact with fungi or if the conditions are right for it. Toenail fungus is one of the most common fungal infections for all kinds of individuals.

If you want to minimize your chances of contracting this foot condition, the key is being aware of what causes it, its signs, and how to treat it. This way, you can take the necessary steps to prevent getting a toenail fungal infection. Read on to know more.

What Causes Toenail Fungal Infections?

Toenail fungus is a type of fungal nail infection that is also called onychomycosis. However, toenail infections have much higher rates compared to fingernail infections.

This is typically caused by fungi, yeast, molds, and bacteria. The most common fungus that causes onychomycosis is dermatophyte. This infection is often characterized by the discoloration of the nail, which often turns black or green.

Having foot fungi increases the risk of patients getting nail fungus because the infection can spread from skin to nail. These skin infections can range from ringworms to athletes’ feet.

However, there are risk factors that increase the possibility of getting toenail fungus such as old age, keeping sweaty feet in shoes, past athlete’s foot infection, skin or nail injury, certain skin conditions, and walking barefoot in swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms.

Other conditions can also increase risks such as weak immune systems, blood flow issues, and diabetes, just to name a few.

When left unaddressed, toenail fungus can result in more serious, even permanent damage especially if you have a weakened immune system.

What are the Signs of Toenail Fungus?

Discoloration is the main symptom of toenail fungus. However, you should also look for signs that can help you better determine whether you have a fungal infection or not. Aside from your nail turning black or green, you should check if it is getting thick, cracked, or fragile. It can also appear raised from the nail bed.

What Can You Do to Deal with Toenail Fungus

toenail fungus

The best way to deal with an existing toenail fungus is to go to a podiatrist. Podiatrists are foot doctors who have medical expertise to diagnose and prescribe treatments to patients. Your doctor will take a look at your nail infection to determine how serious it is and how to proceed.

The thing is, nail fungus can be difficult to treat, but it may be easier if the infection is at its earlier stage. Antifungal creams or pills are some of the most common ways to treat it. However, serious cases can lead to the complete removal of the nail.

Other than this, you should minimize the possibility of getting an infection by avoiding risk factors such as keeping your feet dry and clean, clipping your nails regularly, avoiding walking barefoot in wet areas, and not sharing clippers and keeping them sanitized.

The Bottom Line

Everyone can get toenail fungus if they increase their risk of exposure, and much more if they have medical conditions. Have an infection? The best way to go is to consult your local podiatrist.

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