Approximately 10% of adults in the population have toenail fungal infections. In this article, we’ll talk about what it looks like and what you can do about it.
Anybody can develop a toenail infection, but males and the elderly are more likely to develop one than women and children.
The majority of nail abnormalities, or roughly 50% of them, are caused by nail fungal infections. Fungus is typically present in the body, but if it overgrows, it can cause problems. Nail fungal infections are typically caused by dermatophytes, a class of fungi that includes Candida.
They are also referred to as tinea unguium and onychomycosis.
Symptoms depend on the type of toenail fungus:
- It usually begins mildly and progresses to a more severe form of the disease.
- At first, you may only see white or yellow spots under your nails.
- It spreads over time and can turn the entire toenail white, yellow, green, or black.
- Nails can become thick and difficult to cut. It may start to curl up or come off the nail bed.
- When you touch the nail, it may become brittle and chipped.
- A nail begins to lift up, so it’s no longer firmly attached to the finger or toe.
- The nail may become deformed.
- You may notice a bad smell.
Typically, fungus-infected nails look like these: thicker, brittler, crumblier, ragged, deformed, darker, or yellowish.
It is easy to ignore a fungal toenail infection at first because you may not feel any pain. But if you don’t treat them, the pressure on the area can hurt. Wearing shoes might become unpleasant when the toenail fungus gets worse.
The following characteristics or factors increase the incidence of toenail and fingernail fungal infection:
- Reduced blood flow
- Slowly developing nails
- A family history of fungus
- Excessive sweating
- A damp or humid work environment
- Using fake nails
- Wearing footwear that blocks ventilation and socks
- Strolling barefoot in wet public spaces including showers, gyms, and swimming pools
- Diabetes, AIDS, circulation issues, a compromised immune system
- Tight shoes that crush the toes
- Exercise that repeatedly produces small trauma to the area where the fingertip joins the nail
- Prior skin or nail infection or injury
Age-related changes in blood circulation and slower nail growth make older people more susceptible to nail fungal infections.
For prevention of infection in the toenails, regularly washing your feet is a good practice. Make sure to be careful when washing your toes with soap.
Your toenails should be short and clipped straight across.
Put on socks that can eliminate moisture. If your feet perspire a lot, change your socks once or twice daily, or remove your shoes whenever you have a chance so that your feet can cool off. Apply antifungal spray or powder to your feet in addition to your shoes. Old pairs of closed-toe shoes should be thrown away since they might contain fungi.
If you receive manicures at nail salons, only go to those that clean their equipment between each client. You are also welcome to bring your own clippers and file from home. Ask them to avoid cutting your cuticles because doing so could result in microscopic skin tears that invite infection.
If someone else in your household has nail fungus, don’t share towels. The infection will spread due to this.
Treatments that can be used include:
- Oral antifungals :Your physician might prescribe a medication to eradicate fungus throughout your body. For a fingernail infection, the treatment may last 2 months; for an infection in your toenails, it may last 3 months.
- Antifungal creams: These medications are applied to your nails using a brush or a rub. They might be effective for a small infection, but they can’t penetrate the nail deeply enough to treat a more serious one. A topical medication could be combined with a tablet.
- Surgery: The doctor might have to completely remove your nail and let a healthy one grow back in its place if previous treatments don’t work. The infection could also spread to the fresh nail.
- Either photodynamic or laser treatment: Doctors are researching newer fungus-killing therapies that employ specialized light.