Living With A Nail Fungal Infection
If you have a nail fungal infection, some things can help:
- Keep your nails cut short and file down any thick areas.
- Dont use the same nail trimmer and file on healthy nails and infected nails. If you have your nails professionally manicured, bring your own nail file and trimmer from home.
- Wear waterproof gloves for wet work . Wear 100% cotton gloves for dry work.
- Wear socks made of wicking material . This pulls moisture away from the skin. Change your socks when they are damp from sweat or if your feet get wet. Put on clean, dry socks every day. Put over-the-counter antifungal foot powder inside your socks to keep your feet dry.
- Wear shoes with good support and a wide toe area. Dont wear pointed shoes that press your toes together.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms.
What Are The Most Effective Treatments For Toenail Fungus
The experts at Easton Dermatology Associates offer treatment customized to your exact situation, whether youve just noticed an irregularity with your toenail or youve been battling fungus for a while. Treatment options include:
- Prescription oral antifungal medications
- Topical nail cream
- Special antifungal nail polish that allows your nails to breathe
No matter what treatment you adopt, patience is key. It can take several months to clear up toenail fungus because even nails that grow at an average rate dont grow rapidly. We treat your fungus until its a thing of the past, and we also advise you on how to prevent a recurrence.;
Its much easier to solve the problem when youre in the early stages of infection, before it becomes too advanced.;
Do at either of our locations in Easton or Salisbury, Maryland, so we can start helping you eliminate embarrassing and persistent nail fungus problems ASAP. When next summer rolls around, you can be back in those oh-so-chic sandals!
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What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Toenail Fungus
If you have toenail fungus, you may find it helpful to ask your provider:
- What type of infection do I have?
- Do you recommend I treat it? Why or why not?
- How long will I need treatment?
- What steps can I take to stop it from coming back?
- Should I be aware of any potentially serious complications or treatment side effects?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Toenail fungus is an incredibly common infection that can be difficult to treat. The condition usually isnt painful, but it may make you feel self-conscious about how your foot looks. If it bothers you, talk to your provider about your treatment options. A trained specialist can provide guidance on whats most likely to address your concerns while protecting your overall health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.
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How Toenail Fungus Occurs
Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is an infection that develops when microorganisms grow under the surface of your nail. It typically occurs after your toenail has had contact with a dermatophyte fungus, though it can also be related to molds or yeasts.
Anyone can have toenail fungus, but its more common in older adults. The condition affects about 75% of people over age 60. With age, your nails become more brittle and cracks develop on the surface. These cracks are the perfect entry points for fungi.
Diagnosing And Treating Toenail Changes
If you notice changes in the appearance of your toenails,;see a doctor promptly. If a fungal infection is suspected, a sample of the nail can be taken and analyzed by a lab to make a diagnosis. If the test comes back positive, an oral or topical antifungal medication may be prescribed to treat the fungus. Most antifungal medications are effective against most forms of toenail fungus, although treatment can take some time, in part because its hard to deliver any type of medication through the nail plate to the skin under the nail.
Most of the time, the treatment requires the whole nail to grow out, which can take up to a year, says Sheth. Treatment needs to be consistent and long-term if it has any chance of working.
If the test comes back negative for fungus, your doctor may begin investigating other causes for the abnormal appearance of your toenails. Sometimes symptoms involving other parts of the body help point to a diagnosis.
People with yellow nail syndrome, for example, may experience leg swelling or breathing problems. Those with alopecia could see their hair begin to fall out.
And, according to Goad, With psoriasis, patches of red, scaly skin may be seen on the knees, elbows, and face, too. Its usually not limited to just the toenails.
Additional reporting by Susan Jara
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How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus
Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:
- Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
- If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
- Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
- Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
- Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
- If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
- Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
- Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across .
- Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.
So Can Toenail Fungus Spread Internally
Yes, the fungi that cause this infection are in fact very contagious and they can spread to other parts of the body and even in the blood as well if not treated properly. But most commonly they spread to other nails of the feet or fingernail.
I always recommend that once you realize you have nail fungus you should get it treated as soon as possible before it gets late.
Ignoring a fungus is very dangerous, and finding out what happens to a fungal infection if left untreated likely isnt something you want to experience yourself.
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Special Groups At Risk For Complications In Severe Onychomycosis
Delaying the treatment of a nail fungus until its late stages can be excruciatingly challenging. For some people with other diseases/conditions, avoiding the onset of severe onychomycosis is essential. The dangers that involve the end-stage nail disease can lead to an even more harmful situation for them.
Boots And Toenail Fungus
Your job could be putting you in jeopardy of a toenail fungal infection, especially if you’re required to wear sturdy, heavy boots with poor ventilation. These shoes create a warm, sweaty environment that’s perfect for the development of toenail fungus. “Any occupation that causes or allows the feet to become sweaty or wet puts the worker at risk for a toenail fungal infection,” Dr. Zinkin says. “Organisms that cause both toenail fungus and athlete’s foot grow and thrive in a dark, moist place.”
To help minimize the risk of toenail fungus, alternate several pairs of work boots or shoes and allow each pair to dry after wearing. Also be sure to change your socks frequently even during the workday so that feet stay dry.
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See A Dermatologist To Pinpoint The Problem
Foot fungus wont just go away on its own, Dr. Ng says. If you think you have foot or toenail fungus, see your dermatologist, she says. There are several tests that your dermatologist can perform to identify exactly whats going on.
Its important to be aware that there are other diseases which can cause nail changes, she says. For example, we do see things like;squamous cell skin cancers;in the nail beds and even melanomas, which have a brownish or blackish discoloration.
How Fungi Infect The Nail
Onchomycosis, or toenail fungal infection, is an invasion by a microscopic organism that thrives in warm, damp environments. Fungal spores are in the air, and they will grow if they land on a receptive surface like your toenail. They feed off the nail tissues, burrowing into the skin under the nail. Over time the nail thickens and may lift off the nail bed as fungal debris accumulates. Once your nail is raised off the nail bed, it won’t reattach, and a new nail won’t grow from that part of the nail bed. However, your nail will continue to grow from the root at the base.
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Types Of Fungal Infections
Fungal infections come in multiple forms and can affect you internally or externally. Tinea, commonly known as ringworm, affects the hair, skin or nails and usually spreads from a pea-sized red dot into a circular rash. Athlete’s foot is a fungus that affects the soles and between the toes; jock itch penetrates the groin and upper thighs. Candida is a yeast that’s a type of fungus. It naturally occurs in the mucous membranes and on the skin, but an overgrowth can cause thrush — white patches in babies — and vaginal yeast infections, along with a host of other symptoms. Pityriasis versicolor lives on human skin. This fungus expands over the chest, shoulders and back.
Rashes, cracked skin, itching and overall malaise are indications that you’re suffering from some sort of external fungal infection. Candida infections can also manifest as digestive distress or other ailments if the fungus enters the bloodstream and infects the whole body.
Medical Complications From Untreated Fungal Toenail Infection
Without proper treatment to stop your toenail fungal infection from getting worse, or spreading, complications will eventually develop.; Fungal infections of; your toenail can spread to the surrounding skin and when your skin becomes cracked, bacteria can enter and cause an abscess.;
An abscess on the toe is a tender mass generally surrounded by a colored area from pink to deep red.; They are often easy to feel by touching.; Inside they are full of pus, bacteria and debris.
Untreated toenail fungal infections can lead to cellulitis and should be treated immediately with antibiotics.; Untreated skin infections of the toe may lead to severe cellulitis and if the infection enters the bloodstream it can become septicemia, also known as bacteremia or blood poisoning.; Once the infection enters the bloodstream the bacteria and their toxins are carried through the bloodstream to your entire body.; If the bacteria levels become high enough, septicemia can quickly become life threatening.
A good reason to seek treatment if you suspect you have a toenail fungal infection is because of the similarity of symptoms for differing diagnosis of more serious toenail conditions.;;You may have a toenail fungus, but you could also be experiencing similar symptoms of a toenail viral infection , complications from toenail trauma, a pre-malignant lesion or, more seriously, melanoma of the nail bed.
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How To Fight Candidiasis
The best way to treat candidiasis and prevent recurring infections is to address the underlying cause.
The food you eat plays an important role in maintaining the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
Eating too many of these foods may promote infection if you have a suppressed immune system.
On the other hand, certain foods have specifically been shown to encourage good bacteria to grow and inhibit the growth of Candida.
The following foods have been shown to help fight Candida infections:
If you require medication, speak to your healthcare provider.
If you require medication, speak to your healthcare provider.
- an antifungal substance called allicin, which has been shown to act against Candida yeasts in animal and test-tube studies (
What Happens When Fungus Attacks The Brain
Though not a common occurrence, fungal infections can sometimes reach the brain. But what happens when fungi attack the brain? In this article, we outline the different types of fungal infection that have the potential to reach the brain. In addition, we examine the devastating effects of what happens when fungi attack the brain.
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How Do You Get A Fungal Nail Infection
Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of;the fungi that cause athlete’s foot infecting the nails.
These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.
You’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
- don’t keep your feet clean and dry
- wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
- walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
- have damaged;your nails
- have a weakened immune system
- have certain other health conditions, such as;diabetes, psoriasis;or peripheral arterial disease;
Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this ;if you have an infection.
How Can Toenail Fungus Affect My General Health
Toenail fungus falls into a category of nail diseases known as onychomycosis. Causative agents are typically fungi, yeast and mold. Onychomycosis is not only a cosmetic concern but certainly can lead to physical pain and can have complications that can affect general health adversely. In patients with a compromised immune system, infections that break down the nail plate can predispose patients to cellulitis. This condition occurs when the skin barrier becomes compromised and either bacteria or fungi infect the soft tissue. If untreated, cellulitis can become severe and may require intravenous antibiotics and/or antifungal agents. Patients with diabetes are prone to such infections and each follow up visit at their physician office should include inspection and examination of the nails to rule out infection.
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Types Of Fungal Nail Infections
There are four main kinds of fungal nail infection. Each looks slightly different:
- Distal or lateral subungual onychomycosis. This is the most common kind. It results from a fungus called a dermatophyte. You can get it in your fingernails or toenails. It starts in the nail bed, underneath the nail. Youâll see a yellowish colored area that spreads from the edges of the nail to the center, and places where it comes apart from the nail bed.
- White superficial onychomycosis. This is less common and only affects the nail surface, mainly on your toenails. It starts as white spots, which become powdery and cause the nail to crumble.
- Proximal subungual onychomycosis. This appears first as white spots in the center of the nail bed at the cuticle. They move outward as the finger or toenail grows. Itâs rare and usually affects people who have immune system problems, like HIV infection.
- Candidal onychomycosis. Yeast causes this infection that usually affects your fingernails. The area around the nails is often swollen and inflamed, and the nails may come off entirely. It tends to happen to nails that have been damaged by an injury or another infection.
Tips To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help prevent a fungal infection of the nails. Taking good care of your nails by keeping them well trimmed and clean is a good way to prevent infections.
Also avoid injuring the skin around your nails. If youre going to have damp or wet hands for an extended amount of time, you may want to wear rubber gloves.
Other ways to prevent fungal infections of the nails include:
- washing your hands after touching infected nails
- drying your feet well after showering, especially between your toes
- getting manicures or pedicures from trustworthy salons
- avoiding being barefoot in public places
- reducing your use of artificial nails and nail polish
Products to help you avoid nail fungus
If youre prone to excessive moisture around your fingernails or toenails, consider buying:
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How Does Toenail Fungus Grow
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How Do Dermatologists Treat A Fungal Nail Infection
Treatment usually begins with your dermatologist trimming your infected nail, cutting back each infected nail to the place where it attaches to your finger or toe. Your dermatologist may also scrape away debris under the nail. This helps get rid of some fungus.
To completely get rid of the infection, most people also need one or more of the following treatments:
Medicine you apply to the nail: If you have a mild infection, a medicine that you apply to your nails may get rid of the infection. This treatment helps keep new fungus out while the nails grow. Fingernails typically grow out in four to six months. Toenails take longer, usually takes 12 to 18 months.
Probably the most difficult part of this treatment is remembering to use it as often as prescribed. Some treatments must be applied every day. Others you apply once a week. To get the best results, its essential that you apply these medicines exactly as directed.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the following medicines that you apply to the nail to treat nail fungus:
Side effects from these medicines are generally mild. Possible side effects include redness and swelling, an ingrown toenail, and stinging or burning when you apply the medicine. In clinical trials, none of these side effects caused patients to stop using the treatment.
The FDA has approved the following systemic medicines to treat nail fungus:
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