What do you use for toenail fungus treatment? How does toenail fungus grow out and how do you cure it?
These are questions you’re probably looking for answers to, that’s why you’re here. Right?
Toenail fungus is a common fungal infection that can affect your toenails and can be difficult to treat. They usually like warm, moist, dark places, and infects one single nail by entering through a crack or opening.
Nail fungus which is also known as onychomycosis infects your fingernails less frequently than they do the toenails. The condition usually isn’t painful, but it may make you feel self-conscious about how your foot looks.
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How toenail fungus starts
Toenail fungus causes
What causes toenail fungus? Toenail fungus happens when fungi get between your toenail and your toenail bed. Your toenail bed is the tissue right underneath your toenail. This infection usually occurs through a crack or cut in your toe.
When fungus infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it is called athlete’s foot or tinea pedis.
Who is likely to get toenail fungus?
Anyone can get toenail fungus, but you’re more likely to get it if you’re an older adult (especially if you’re over 60 years old).
You’re at a higher risk of being infected with toenail fungus if you have:
- Nail injury.
- A weakened immune system such as HIV or an autoimmune disorder.
- Poor blood circulation due to PVD (peripheral vascular disease).
- A condition that makes you sweat a lot, called hyperhidrosis.
Is toenail fungus contagious?
Yes. Many types of toenail fungi are contagious. You can get the fungus by touching an infected surface.
If you become infected, you can also spread the fungus to someone else through direct contact.
How toenail fungus spreads
What are the most common ways that you can get toenail fungus? The most common causes include:
- Using a public shower or locker room
- Walking barefoot in a public area.
- Walking around swimming pools.
Signs and stages of toenail fungus
Toenail fungus is often painless and often infects one single nail by entering through a crack or opening. If the infection remains untreated, the nail becomes thickened, discolored, and eventually crumbles from brittleness.
Early stages of toenail fungus
The earliest signs that you may have a fungal toenail infection include:
- Unusual white or yellow streaks or spots in your nail. Your symptoms could be whitish to yellow-brown discoloration.
- Thickened nails.
- Dry, brittle or ragged nails.
- Noticeable foot odor that smells slightly foul.
- Flaking of your nail in certain areas, including a separation of your nial from the nail bed.
- Crumbling along the edges or tips of your nail, especially where your nail is discolored.
- Increasing distortion of the shape or color of your nail.
In the early stages of nail fungus infection, you’ll notice a change in the texture or color of the affected nail. This may be a white or yellowish dot under your nail.
Because this change looks cosmetic, you may view it as nothing of importance. The early stages are the best time to start treatment.
Mid-level or moderate stage
If left untreated, the infection will accelerate and progress to the mid-level or moderate stage. This is the stage when your nail thickens to the point that it may become painful especially when you’re wearing shoes or performing activities that apply pressure to your infected toe.
If the fungus is not treated at this point, it will spread from one spot on your nail to the entire nail, or even to other nails. At this point, your entire nail becomes yellowish in color. It may even assume another odd color.
Final, advanced stage
During the final stage of your toenail fungus infection, the infected nail becomes abnormally thick and extremely brittle. This advanced stage causes your entire nail or a portion of it to detach from the nail bed.
In addition, at this stage, the infection can spread to the surrounding skin and to other nails.
Can toenail fungus spread to other areas of your body?
Toenail fungus can spread to other areas of your body. However, it doesn’t usually spread beyond our toes.
Toenail fungus can spread to the following:
- Your other toenails.
- The skin between your toes. When toenail fungi occur between your toes, it’s called athlete’s foot.
- Your scalp.
- Your groin area. When fungi infect your groin area, it’s called jock itch.
Other types of fungi known as dermatophyte fungi can easily spread to your skin and your scalp also. When dermatophyte fungi infect your skin, it’s called ringworm.
Toenail fungus diagnosis
How is toenail fungus diagnosed? To assess your symptoms, your doctor or other healthcare providers will examine the affected toenail closely.
Your doctor can identify an infected toenail fungus by merely looking at your toe. However, tests will be required to confirm the presence of a fungal infection.
To further assess your nail, your provider will most likely obtain a little sample from underneath the affected toenail. A positive diagnosis will be confirmed by looking at the cells under a microscope.
If the initial test is negative, your provider may obtain a scraping of the fungus and send it to the lab to see if it grows out in a culture. This process will also help your doctor in determining the type of fungus causing your infection.
Toenail fungus treatment
Toenail fungus can be difficult to treat. To get rid of the fungus, you may need to treat it for several months. Even after treatment, the infection often comes back.
Your dermatologist or podiatrist will explain your treatment options. If you have a mild fungal infection that doesn’t bother you, it may not be necessary for you to do anything.
This treatment option involves applying a topical medication directly to the affected nail on a regular basis. Topical medications such as terbinafine (Lamisil®) may be effective. When applied over a period of time, the medication kills the fungus.
Oral antifungal medication
To treat your fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe fluconazole (Diflucan®, or itraconazole (Sporanox®). You may have to take the medication every day for several months (or longer).
Your doctor may use blood tests to determine if you developed any side effects to the medication you were prescribed.
Oral antifungals are not for everyone because they can harm your liver and interact with other medications in your body.
Laser treatment for toenail fungus
To cure the fungus, your provider uses a high-tech laser beam and specific lights directed at the toenail. The FDA has approved lasers for the “temporary rise of clear nail” in nail fungus, but they are not a cure.
Because laser treatment success rates are lower than oral and topical medications, it is not commonly utilized as a first-line treatment for nail fungus.
It’s unlikely you’ll have surgery to remove an infected toenail. The fungus can come back even after your nail has been surgically removed.
What is the most effective treatment for toenail fungus?
You’ll likely get the most effective results by combining topical treatment in conjunction with oral medication.
The best toenail fungus treatment for you will be determined by your symptoms and circumstances. Before prescribing a treatment plan that is tailored to you, your healthcare provider will consider several factors.
Generally, oral antifungal medication may have the greatest therapy potential for you. However, your treatment may be more effective if oral medications are combined with topical antifungal therapy.
A severe case of nail fungus can be unpleasant and damage your nails permanently. If your immune system is compromised due to diabetes, medication, HIV, or other illnesses, it might lead to other serious infections that spread beyond your feet.
If you have diabetes, you may have reduced blood circulation. The nerve supply in your feet may also be compromised. You’re also more likely to get a bacterial skin infection (cellulitis).
Even slight damage to your foot, such as a fungal infection in your nails, can develop into a more serious complication. If you have diabetes and suspect you’re developing nail fungus, see your doctor.
How to prevent toenail fungus infection
If you follow these best practices, you can prevent nail fungus infection, reinfections, and athlete’s foot, both of which can lead to nail fungus:
- You should wash your hands and feet on a regular basis. If you touch an infected nail, wash your hands. Moisturize your nails after washing them.
- Trim your nails straight across and file down thicker regions. Smooth the edges using a file. After each usage, disinfect your nail clippers.
- Discard old shoes or use disinfectancts or antifungal powders to clean them.
- Wear shoes that are made from breathable materials.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks or frequently change your socks throughout the day.
- When you’re around a locker room or in a pool area, you should not go barefoot. Always wear closed-toed shoes.
- You should avoid nail polish and fake nails.
- If you use nail salons for foot care, choose one that sterilizes their manicure and pedicure tools for each client.
- To maintain strong and healthy nails, there are FDA approved vitamins and supplements that contain vital vitamins, plants and ingredients such as curcumin, Cat’s Claw, garlic, Quercetin, pomegranate and olive. Check below for our recommendation: