What Can Happen If Left Untreated
While you can treat nail fungus on your own, if you are having trouble getting your toenail fungus under control, see a professional foot doctor for help. Leaving an infection alone, without treatment, can cause permanent damage within the nail and allow the infection to spread to other areas of your foot. Also, a severe toenail fungus infection is painful, so you shouldnt suffer needlessly when treatment is available.
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Get Rid Of Your Toenail Fungus Asap
Whether you are seeing early signs of a fungal toenail infection or your toes are already deep in the thick of it, there is no reason to wait any more to receive the treatment you need.
The longer an infection goes unaddressed, the firmer a hold it will have within the nail and the more challenging it will be to treat. We are still up to that challenge, of course, but we would rather save our patients as much time and effort as possible!
Our team at Family Foot Care & Surgery will carefully examine your case and provide our best recommendations for a course of action. The sooner the fungus is destroyed, the sooner your nails can heal, and the better you can avoid more substantial damage.
Call our offices in Milford, or Hamden, , to schedule an appointment with us, or fill out our online contact form if you prefer to reach us electronically instead.
Softening And Scraping Away The Nail
As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.
Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.
To use the treatment:
- wash the affected area and dry it thoroughly
- carefully apply the paste to the infected nails
- cover the nails with plasters and leave them for 24 hours
- wash the paste off the next day and scrape away the softened parts of the nail
- repeat this process each day for 2 to 3 weeks
Once no more infected parts of the nail can be removed, ask your pharmacist for antifungal nail paint to prevent re-infection as the nail regrows over the next few months.
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About Fungal Nail Infection
Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. It’s not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.
The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.
The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.
Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus
You may feel tempted to cover up a discolored toenail with nail polish. If you are using a topical antifungal, you probably should not use polish. Some providers may tell you not to wear it in any case. Polish traps in moisture from the nailbed . Because fungi thrive in moist environments, wearing nail polish may make a fungal infection worse. However, the nail continues to grow with or without polish.
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Toenail Fungus Prescription Medication Treatments
Sometimes prescription medications are needed to treat a toenail infection that just wont go away with natural remedies or over-the-counter medication in a few months. In this case, prescription-strength antifungal medication can eradicate stubborn onychomycosis.
Topical antifungal medications often are effective in treating mild to moderate toenail fungus. Topical solutions may include medicated nail polishes or liquid medications. Penlac , Kerydin , and Jublia are among the top prescription drugs for toenail fungus. Some topical treatments require you to file down the surface of the nail to help the treatment get through to the nail bed. If your healthcare provider prescribes a topical medication, follow the instructions carefully for application and removal.
Recognize Nail Fungus In The Early Stages
An infection should be treated early as soon as the first symptoms of nail fungus can be recognized.
If you are not sure whether it is nail fungus, you should consult a doctor. When treating nail fungus, you shouldnt lose any time, as it is very tedious.
A healthy fingernail or toenail is light pink and shiny, the nails surface is smooth, and the shape is even.
The nail fungus attacks the nail and feeds on the keratin of the nail. For this reason, one of the first signs is a slight change in the color of the nail .
Most of the time, the person concerned hardly perceives any symptoms or pain.
The nail often loses its typical shine at the beginning of the infection and becomes dull.
The picture above shows the typical course of onychomycosis very well.
In the initial stage, the fungal nail infection often begins on the front or side of the nail and spreads from there towards the middle towards the nail root.
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Getting Rid Of Nail Fungus From Fake Acrylic Nails
Nail fungus that appear on the artificial acrylic nails may not be life-threatening. However, it may cause the fungus to spread into the natural nails, causing inflammation, itching, and pain, not to mention cosmetically unpleasant natural nail appearance. In some extreme cases, nail fungus that has been spreading into the natural nails may inhibit people from properly and comfortably using their hands or feet. Therefore, immediate treatment is essential.
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Fungal Nail Infection Treatment
See your doctor if you think you have nail fungus. It can be tough to get rid of, and youâre more likely to have success with a prescription. Treatments include:
- Oral antifungals. The doctor may give you a pill to kill fungus in your whole body. This is usually the best way to get rid of a nail infection. Treatment may last 2 months for an infection in your fingernails, or 3 months if itâs in your toenails.
- Topical antifungals. You rub or brush these medicines onto your nails. They may work for a mild infection, but they canât get deep enough into the nail to cure a more serious one. You might use a topical treatment in combination with a pill.
- Surgery. If other treatments donât work, the doctor may need to remove your nail entirely and let a healthy one grow back in its place. The new nail could also get infected.
- Laser or photodynamic therapy. Doctors are studying newer treatments that use special light to try to kill the fungus.
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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.
Preventing Fungal Nail Infection
Studies suggest that in about 1 in 4 cases where the fungal nail infection has been cleared from the nail, the infection returns within three years. One way to help prevent a further bout of nail infection is to treat athletes foot as early as possible to stop the infection spreading to the nail. Athletes foot is common and may recur from time to time. It is easy to treat with an antifungal cream which you can buy from pharmacies, or obtain on prescription. The first sign of athletes foot is itchy and scaling skin between the toes. See the separate leaflet called Athletes Foot for more details. Also:
- Try to avoid injury to nails, which may increase the risk of developing a nail infection.
- Wear footwear such as flip-flops in public places, such as communal bathing/shower places, locker rooms, etc.
- Avoid towel sharing.
- Consider replacing old footwear, as this could be contaminated with fungal spores.
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What Does A Toenail Bruise Look Like
The color of your toenail is a good indicator of whats going on. Toenail bruising usually starts off as a dark red and turns purple, then dark rusty brown, and finally, it turns black.
And If the dark spot in the nail looks shiny, you can still see through the nail around the colored spot to the nail bed, and the discolored spot is uniform in color , then its most likely a bruise.
Who Is Most Likely To Suffer From Fungal Toenail / Discoloured Toenail
Just like all infections and diseases, certain people tend to be more at risk when it comes to contracting fungal nail infections. Youre at higher risk of contracting fungal nail infections if you:
- Have diabetes
- Are over 65 years of age
- Wear artificial nails / regularly get pedicures
- Have a disease that causes poor circulation
- Have a nail injury
- Swim in public swimming pools often
- Have a skin injury around your nail
- Wear close-toed shoes often
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What Does Fungus Look Like
As the fungal infection spreads and goes deeper into the nail, it causes the nail to discolor and become opaque. The nail thickens and eventually crumbles at the edges.
Nail fungus varies from white to yellow and can sometimes appear brown.
Regardless of the color of your fungi, it will be sort of splotchy looking rather than one uniform color.
The progression of the color of bruising will happen in a matter of days from dark red to black, as opposed to nail fungus which starts off white or yellowish and may eventually turn brown after weeks or months.
Nail fungus will make the nail look dull as the fungus starts to separate the keratin in the nail plate and it becomes opaque.
Nail Color And Structure Changes
Keratin is a protein that promotes the development of the skin and nails. Nail psoriasis sometimes causes too much keratin to grow under the nail. This overgrowth is called subungual hyperkeratosis.
People with hyperkeratosis may notice a white, chalky substance under the nail. When this occurs in the toenails, the pressure of shoes pushing down on the nails might cause pain.
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Injuries To Your Feet Can Encourage Toenail Fungus
Foot injuries happen to anyone. If youre athletic, work outdoors, serve as a combat soldier, or have a job that requires being on your feet a lot, its possible youre getting foot injuries more often than normal.
Wearing shoes that constrict your feet and feel tight means youre sweating, trapping in heat, and not having enough room to move. Your feet cannot breathe properly.
If youre wearing this type of footwear for many hours with an injury, your nail bed can become prone to cracking. This causes the toenail to lift from the bed, creating further problems and opening the door for toenail fungus to seep in.
If youre noticing pain thats emerging from your toenail beds, evaluate your feet and see how they look. Take note of the above-mentioned symptoms, such as color, smell, and what the bed itself looks like.
Even if you cant change the circumstances, you can seek out footwear thats comfortable and offers you greater protection. Look for ways to avoid further foot injuries, so you arent making yourself vulnerable to further toenail infections.
This is the first step in helping your nails recover and preventing further growth that spreads across your feet.
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.
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How To Catch Nail Fungus Early
You likely have an image in your mind of what toenail fungus looks like. The symptoms are pretty classic:
- A yellowish or brownish color
- Thickening of the nails
But what if we told you that, by the time you see these signs, the fungus has already had plenty of time to set up shop and bury itself deep within your toenails?
It takes a lot of time for symptoms such as those above to appear. And lets be honest: even when the main symptoms start to appear, we tend to have a habit of overlooking it, or just hoping it goes away on its own at least until it becomes too significant of a problem to ignore.
We are not judging here. It is a very common and very human behavior.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the sooner a fungal infection is diagnosed and addressed, the faster and more effective treatments tend to be. And when it comes to toenail fungus, the early signs are definitely not as obvious as what they end up becoming.
Catching and treating a fungal infection at its earliest stages can save you plenty of time and trouble, so we highly recommend paying attention to your feet and periodically checking for these first symptoms..
What Is Black Toenail Fungus
If you have a dark, thick toenail, it could be toenail fungus, which is usually caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. It affects the toenail and the area beneath the nail and causes color changes, thickening, and abnormally shaped nails.
Its fairly common, with at least 12% of American adults diagnosed with it, according to Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Older adults and people with diabetes, circulation problems, or a weakened immune system are more likely to have toenail fungus.
This infection doesnt usually go away on its own, and it can take a year or more to treat it with prescription medications. These are applied to the nail or taken in pill form.
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Types Of Toenail Fungal Infections
Toenail infections affect about 14 percent of the population at any given time, according to a study published in June 2014 in PloS Pathogens. The most common symptoms of a toenail fungal infection include discoloration of the nail, debris under the nail, irregularity of the white part of the nail, nail thickening, and pain, says Sheth.
Toenail fungal infections can usually be categorized into one of the following five subtypes:
Distal Subungual Onychomycosis This is the most common form of toenail fungal infection, usually occurring in the portion of the nail closer to the tip and on the underside of the nail. The nail may become thick, yellow, or brittle.
Endonyx Onychomycosis People who have endonyx onychomycosis have fungus growing between the layers of the toenails. With this type of fungus, toenails usually have a milky white color and may be pitted or split. They usually dont thicken or separate from the nail bed.
Proximal White Subungual Onychomycosis This is a relatively uncommon form of toenail fungus, seen most often in people with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as HIV. The fungus enters the toenail through the cuticle and affects the part of the nail closer to the base, turning it a whitish color.
What Measures Can I Take To Avoid Acquiring A Fungal Nail Infection
- It is important that you keep your nails clean and trimmed. Refrain from removing the cuticle as this serves as a natural barrier from water and organisms getting inside the nail fold .
- Keep your feet dry. Fungi grow easily in moist, warm environments. You may try using foot or anti-fungal powder and wear cotton socks.
- Avoid walking barefoot in places such as communal locker rooms or public swimming pools
- Be careful about where you get a manicure or pedicure and make sure all tools and equipment are properly sterilized.
- Don’t share personal belongings such as socks, slippers, or shoes especially with people known to have onychomycosis. Laundering socks does not totally eliminate fungal elements from the material.
- Make sure to seek treatment if you suspect other fungal infections anywhere on the body as this can be transmitted to the nails which are much more difficult to treat.
Dr. Melinda Gooderham is the Medical Director at the SKiN Centre for Dermatology in Peterborough, Ontario. The centre includes a state-of-the-art Phototherapy and Psoriasis Treatment Centre, Patch Test Clinic, Laser Clinic, and Dermatology Research Centre. To learn more about Dr. Gooderham’s clinical research and ongoing studies visit: ResearchTrials.org – SKiN Centre for Dermatology
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