What Is Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is a fungal infection called onychomycosis. Tinea unguium is another name for it.
Its an overgrowth of fungi that are often found on your body together with other bacteria. You can get the fungi from someone else too, like at a nail salon if the tools arent properly sterilized. Its the same fungi that cause ringworm, jock itch, or athletes foot.
The problematic infection happens when the fungi get in through the cracks in your toenails and start to overpopulate in, on, or under the nail. It just loves warm, moist environments and often finds that in your toenail, especially when you wear shoes. And its even happier if youre active and sweat in your sports shoes.
Onychomycosis can infect your fingernails too but thats less common since your hands arent confined to a warm, moist environment like your feet are.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
In rare cases, toenail fungus can cause an infection called cellulitis. Without prompt treatment, cellulitis may pose a serious danger to your health.
You should seek treatment guidance from a trusted healthcare provider if you have:
- Circulation problems.
- Redness, pain or pus near your toenail.
- A weakened immune system.
What Can I Expect If I Have A Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus is common, its usually not harmful. Symptoms mostly affect the look of your toenail.
Toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes or other areas of your body. When getting dressed, put your socks on first to reduce the chance of spread.
Treating toenail fungus takes a long time, and it doesnt always work. Even then, toenail fungus often returns. Discuss the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus with your healthcare provider to determine whats best for you.
Practicing good hygiene and foot care reduces the chance toenail fungus will come back. If you have diabetes, getting regular foot exams may help you address foot problems before they get serious.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Fungal Nail Infection
A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.
As it progresses, the infection can cause:
- discolouration of the nail it may turn white, black, yellow or green
- thickening and distortion of the nail it may become an unusual shape or texture and be difficult to trim
- pain or discomfort particularly when using or placing pressure on the affected toe or finger
- brittle or crumbly nails pieces may break off and come away completely
Sometimes the skin nearby may also become infected and be itchy and cracked or red and swollen.
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What Side Effects And Drug
The possible side effects of itraconazole include headaches, dizziness, stomach and bowel problems, and rashes. Itraconazole can also interact with a number of other drugs. These include cholesterol-reducing and blood-sugar-lowering medications, as well as certain sleeping pills. It is therefore important to let your doctor know about any medication you take. Itraconazole is not an option for people with heart failure . It also isnt suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Terbinafine can cause gastrointestinal problems and a temporary loss of taste and smell. It can also interact with certain antidepressants and heart medications. Overall, terbinafine has far fewer drug-drug interactions than itraconazole. Nevertheless, its still important to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication. As a precaution, this medication should not be taken during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding.
The studies only rarely reported on how often the different side effects occurred. But most people tolerate nail fungus medications well. Only a few people in the studies stopped treatment because of side effects.
But there is a very small risk of liver damage from taking itraconazole or terbinafine. For this reason, people with a liver disease are only given these medications if its absolutely necessary.
Tea Tree Oil Against Toenail Fungus
Tea tree oil is considered to be an excellent antiseptic, and it works great on fungicide infections. Take pure tea tree oil and add a few drops of olive or thyme oil to it. Apply it to the affected area with the help of a cotton ball and keep it for ten minutes. Eventually, gently rub the nail with a soft toothbrush. This remedy will work affirmatively if the infection is not too old.
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When Should I Consult My Doctor About Toenail Fungus
Anyone with toenail fungus can try home remedies or OTC treatments, but some prefer to go right to their healthcare provider for a more aggressive treatment with prescription medication.
People with certain conditions, such as a compromised immune system, diabetes, or circulation problems, should see their doctor for toenail fungus. Anyone with signs of infection, such as pain, redness, or pus around the toenail, should seek medical care. People who have used home remedies or OTC treatments without success should also see their doctor.
What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus
The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your healthcare provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan. Theyll customize a treatment plan for you.
Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.
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Making A Vinegar Soak
If you want to try treating your nail fungus with vinegar, then the best thing to do is soak your foot in a vinegar-water mixture. Diluting the vinegar is important to prevent it from irritating your skin. Try a daily soak and see if it helps clear the infection. If not, then don’t panic. You can still use more conventional treatments.
Vicks Vaporub May Treat Toenail Fungus
This well-known product that many uses to alleviate congestion is actually a good home remedy to rid toenail fungus. The thymol, menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil in this cream can help treat toenail fungus. Simply apply a small amount of Vicks Vapor Rub to the affected area once per day until the fungus has disappeared.
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Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus
Although the nail will grow with or without polish, its best to skip the pedicures for a while. While it can be tempting to hide the condition, nail polish can trap moisture from the nail bed, making it a welcoming environment for fungi. Nail polish can also interfere with topical treatments. Switch to socks and sneakers for a more comfortable way to hide toenail fungus.
When Are The Different Treatments Considered
Most doctors recommend treating nail fungus with nail polish or cream if
- not much more than half of the nail is affected by the fungus,
- the base of the nail is not infected, and
- only some nails are affected.
Topical treatment is also usually recommended for children. One reason for this is that most oral medications arent suitable for children. Another reason is that children have thinner nails that grow more quickly, so its assumed that treatment with nail polish or creams is more likely to work in children than in adults. White superficial onychomycosis is also often treated with a nail polish or cream.
If several nails are infected by the fungus, or if the infection has spread out more on the affected nails, its usually necessary to take oral medication. And if the infection started at the base of the nail, its highly likely that only tablets will help.
Can Thick Toenails Cause Complications
Untreated toenail infections can cause some complications. Over time, the infection can get worse, and symptoms may become more severe. Toenails might thicken to the point that they cause discomfort when you try to wear shoes, or even make it more difficult to walk.
If you have preexisting medical conditions, treatment can be vital so that the fungus doesnt contribute to secondary infections or complications.
Other Options For Toenail Fungus Infections
Removal of the toenail is only used when just one nail is infected, but it does work. Light therapy and lasers are also being studied as possible toenail fungus treatments. Laser therapy has shown promise when combined with oral or topical antifungals. A multicenter trial investigating the efficacy of a device, the Pinpointe FootLaser, is currently underway, so stay tuned to that.
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Laser Treatment For Toe Fungus
Laser treatment for toe fungus is a safe, pain-free, and effective treatment. Multiple treatment sessions are usually required. Clearance rates of greater than 80% are reported with laser treatment of toe fungus. No topical or oral medications are required for treatment when using lasers to treat toe fungus.
Fungal Nail Treatments Which One Is The Most Effective
Fungal nail infections continue to be a serious problem for many Australians, with up to 25% of the population affected at any one time. Highly contagious, fungal nail infections can affect people of all ages and if left untreated, can cause more serious health issues in addition to being unsightly and embarrassing. At The Walking Clinic Canberra, we have a longstanding reputation for being the best podiatrist Canberra locals turn to for expert advice and treatment for a wide range of foot and toenail problems. The management of fungal infections depends on the type, extent and severity of nail involvement, symptoms and pre-existing conditions. Although it is challenging to treat, there are typically three common treatment options, and we have broken them down below.
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Physical Strategies And Laser Therapies
Heinlinet al.40 showed that repeated, daily cold atmospheric plasma treatment inhibits thein vitro growth ofT. rubrum. Recently, a pilot study demonstrated the effects of non-thermal plasma in treating onychomycosis41. Non-thermal plasma was created by using an electric insulator by short pulses of electric fields that ionize air molecules. This process creates ions, electrons, ozone, hydroxyl radicals, and nitric oxide, which are fungicidal and cytotoxic41. Ultimately, 13 patients 33 to 74 years of age with 25 to 50% nail involvement completed the trial, and 15.4% achieved mycological cure . Additional studies are required because of the small sample size and varying protocols, but it is the first clinical study to report that thermal plasma may be effective against toenail onychomycosis.
Commonly used lasers include neodymium-yttrium garnet lasers and Q-switched laser systems1. The smaller temporal pulse length in this laser is less than the thermal relaxation time of the fungi, which permits contained heating of the fungi in the nail plate while allowing dissipation of heat in the surrounding soft tissue of the toenail and fingernail. There is a lack of robust clinical data. Randomized, double-blind trials are required to determine whether they are actually fungicidal51,52.
Best Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
A variety of treatment options for toenail fungus are available, including drug-free alternatives, over-the-counter medicine, prescription drugs, laser treatment, or even surgical removal for those severe cases. Many people would rather start with items they have around the house before purchasing medication or visiting their doctors office. These treatments are most effective in mild fungal cases.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes when it comes to treating nail fungus. This is because a new toenail must grow to replace the old, damaged toenail. This can take up to 18 months to regrow the toenail. This time frame varies on how fast or slow your toenails grow and how severe the fungal infection is. Many home remedies quickly improve the appearance of the nail, but the actual fungus is not gone until the new, healthy nail has replaced the old, damaged one.
Try some of these effective home remedies for toenail fungus:
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Why Does Vinegar Soak Work
The idea behind taking a vinegar foot soak for toenail fungus is relatively simple: vinegar is acidic, which gives it antifungal and antibacterial properties.
To explain a bit further, vinegar is a diluted form of acetic acid . As a result, it is an antifungal agent meaning it slows down the growth of some types of foot fungus and may kill fungus entirely.
It might also make your body less hospitable to fungus because the acidity affects the pH level of your skin. This makes fungal overgrowth and infection much more unlikely.
Its worth noting though, that there is no scientific evidence that shows vinegar soaks is a reliable method for treating toenail fungus.
How Do You Get Toenail Fungus
Pedicure instruments, pools, saunas, gyms, and locker room showers are hotbeds for fungus spores. Moist dirty footwear could also transfer the fungus to your foot. Fungal spores enter small tears and openings in cuticles or dry, cracked skin and set roots deep in the nailbed of your toenails . Your nail grows in looking thicker, yellow or darkly discolored, cloudy, brittle, cracked, and could be accompanied by pain.
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Nail Fungus: Polish Cream Or Tablets
Nail fungus can be very persistent. Topical treatment with nail polish may take up to one year. Tablets for treating fungal nail infections usually have to be taken for several weeks or months. They are much more effective than topical treatments, but they have more side effects.
Brittle nails and a whitish-yellowish or brownish discoloration are typical signs of nail fungus. The nails may also become thicker and change shape. The affected part of the nail sometimes detaches from the nail bed. The treatment options for nail fungus include nail polishes and creams as well as tablets. Nail polishes and creams are available in pharmacies without a prescription.
Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
Unfortunately, treating onychomycosis can take a long time, especially since toenails tend to grow back slowly.
If youre experiencing symptoms of a toenail fungal infection, including dry, brittle, or cracked toenails, you may want to know whether certain home remedies can effectively and quickly treat the infection at home.
In this article, Ill cover the basics of a toenail fungal infection, including its symptoms, risk factors, and causes.
Ill also cover how its typically treated and which home remedies may or may not be effective at clearing the infection.
Finally, Ill explain when you may want to speak with your medical provider about a possible toenail fungal infection.
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Why Is Laser Therapy Better Than Other Therapies
Among other reasons, laser therapy is better than other therapies because it is safe. It doesnt have any of the side effects that come with the antifungals. It also doesnt have the drug interactions that the oral antifungals can have.
Its a great option for people that are taking the drugs that interact with the orals or that cant tolerate the side effects.
The treatment is pain-free and easy. Expect to spend 12 minutes on treating each of your feet once you arrive in our office.
And the best perk of all is that the laser can get in through your nail to where that fungus is hiding and get rid of it quickly.
Use Vicks Vaporub To Treat Toenail Fungus Infection
To treat toenail fungus with the help of Vicks VapoRub, first of all, wash the foot thoroughly and cut and trim the nail. When the foot dries completely, cover the toenail with Vicks vapoRub. Once done, cover it with a bandage or gauze. Wear socks after doing so. Repeat the process daily to see effective results. Depending upon the fungal infection, it will take ten to six weeks to recover.
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