Causes And Risk Factors For Nail Fungus
You may be more likely to get toenail fungus if you:
- Are frequently in moist environments like pools, locker rooms or saunas
- Wear tight-fitting shoes or sneakers or have sweaty feet
- Have athletes foot
- Have damaged nails
Some people are more at risk of getting nail fungus than others. You might be more at risk if you:
- Are of an older age, due to slower growing nails or reduced blood flow
- Have diabetes or a weakened immune system
- Live with a family member who has nail fungus
Nail During Treatment For Fungal Nail Infection
The fungi that are killed with treatment remain in the nail until the nail grows out. Fresh, healthy nail growing from the base of the nail is a sign that treatment is working. After you finish a course of treatment, it will take several months for the old infected part of the nail to grow out and be clipped off. The non-infected fresh new nail continues growing forward. When it reaches the end of the finger or toe, the nail will often look normal again.
Fingernails grow faster than toenails, so it may appear they are quicker to get back to normal. It may take up to a year after starting treatment before toenails look completely normal again and six months for fingernails to look completely normal.
Consult a doctor if there does not seem to be any healthy new nail beginning to grow after a few weeks of treatment. However, the infection can still respond to treatment even after you finish a course of medication. This is because the antifungal medication stays in the nail for about nine months after you stop taking medication.
What Causes Fungal Nail Infections
- A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus infects a fingernail, toenail or the skin under the nail .
- Fungi tend to attack nails that are already damaged through small cuts in the skin around your nail or through the opening between your nail and nail bed.
- Toenails are affected 7 times more often than fingernails.
- You can get a fungal nail infection from sharing personal items such as nail clippers, or towels, walking barefoot in public showers or pools, or if you have athletes foot , where the fungus spreads from your skin to your nail.
- Nail injury, athletes foot, diabetes, smoking or medication that suppress your immune system can increase your risk of getting a fungal nail infection.
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Who Gets Toenail Fungus
Men are more likely to get it than women. The older you are, the better your chances are, too. People who have diabetes, athlete’s foot, or a weak immune system, who smoke, or whose family members have it are also at a higher risk. If you spend a lot of time in the water or you’ve injured your toenail, your odds for getting toenail fungus go up.
Reduce Stress & Improve Sleep
According to a 2016 review published in the Journal of Epidemiology, chronic stress may increase insulin resistance . According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, sleep deprivation may also increase the risk of insulin resistance . Since insulin resistance is one of the main underlying causes of toenail fungus, reducing your stress levels and improving your sleep is critical . Lower stress levels and quality sleep can also help your body to recover.
Reduce stress and interaction with people that bring you down from your life as much as you can. Decrease your stress levels with the help of breathwork, meditation, visualization, guided relaxation strategies, positive affirmations, and gratitude. Practicing yoga, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi may help you reduce stress levels. Journaling can help you release tension and spot and change negative thought patterns. Spend time in nature and with supportive friends and family members.
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What Are The Signs Of Nail Fungus
If you get nail fungus, youre likely to see one or more of the following changes to your nails:
Part of a nail turns white, yellow, brown, or another color. At first, you may just see a spot of discoloration at the tip of your nail. Without treatment, this discoloration may spread, covering more of the nail.
Debris builds up under the nail.
A nail begins to lift up, so its no longer firmly attached to the finger or toe.
A nail turns white, and the surface of the nail may feel soft, dry, and powdery. The nail also thins, so you may be able to scrape off the nail.
Nails thicken and turn yellow or brown, often this affects all of the fingernails.
A nail splits or crumbles.
Treatment is important
Without treatment, the fungus can spread and damage more nails.
Having nail fungus is usually painless. At least, its painless in the beginning. However, if you put off getting treatment, the fungus can grow. When the fungus worsens on toenails, wearing shoes can become painful.
If you see any changes to a nail, you should see a board-certified dermatologist. When caught early, nail fungus may clear with treatment applied to the nail. As the fungus grows, it becomes more difficult to clear the infection.
ImagesImages 1,2, and 3 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 70:918-23.
Image 4 used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
When Should I Call The Doctor
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 the toenail.
- Weakened immune system.
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What Are The Clinical Features Of Onychomycosis
Onychomycosis may affect one or more toenails and fingernails and most often involves the great toenail or the little toenail. It can present in one or several different patterns.
- Lateral onychomycosis a white or yellow opaque streak appears at one side of the nail.
- Subungualhyperkeratosis scaling occurs under the nail.
- Distalonycholysis the end of the nail lifts. The free edge often crumbles.
- Superficial white onychomycosis flaky white patches and pits appear on the top of the nail plate.
- Proximal onychomycosis yellow spots appear in the half-moon .
- Onychoma or dermatophytoma a thick localised area of infection in the nail plate.
- Destruction of the nail.
Candida infection of the nail plate generally results from paronychia and starts near the nail fold . The nail fold is swollen and red, lifted off the nail plate. White, yellow, green or black marks appear on the nearby nail and spread. The nail may lift off its bed and is tender if you press on it.
Mould infections are similar in appearance to tinea unguium.
Onychomycosis must be distinguished from other nail disorders.
- Onychogryphosis , common in older people
Clean Socks And Shoes
Regularly changing your socks and shoes can also cut down on the growth of unwanted foot fungus. Both socks and athletic shoes can also be washed in hot water to rid the growth of yeasts and fungi that may be growing on the fabric. Some shoes can be machine dried. Drying shoes in the sun is another option when cleaning footwear.
Adding a half-cup of baking soda or one cup of vinegar to the washing machine can help eliminate bacteria or fungus on socks or shoes.
Boots and other footwear that are not machine washable could be wiped out with a vinegar and water solution or sprayed with an over-the-counter antifungal spray. Medicated powders are also helpful in treating shoes for foot fungus.
Allowing the feet to breathe by taking off shoes and socks when possible can prevent fungal growth. Protect your feet by wearing breathable footwear and clean socks. Antimicrobial socks and shoes made from bamboo, copper, or specialty fabrics are also available. They can help reduce unwanted bacteria and yeast from growing in your footwear.
A proactive approach to keeping your feet clean and dry can prevent the spread of toenail fungus. You can wash or soak feet with warm soapy water or a foot bath using everyday household items. Soaking your feet in an all-natural, homeopathic concoction can be beneficial in reducing or eliminating toenail fungus.
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Stop This Skin Infection In Its Tracks With These Over
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Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang
Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
The fungus often begins in the form of athlete’s foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies, she says.
Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe.
Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.
Take Care Of Your Toes
Use soap and water to wash your feet, and dry well, including between toes. Trim your toenails — straight across — to keep them shorter than the end of your toe. Make sure the tools you use are clean, too. Wash clippers and files with soap and water, then wipe with rubbing alcohol. You might be tempted to cover up discolored nails with polish, but don’t. Your nail bed can’t “breathe,” which keeps fungus from going away.
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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.
Are Oral Medications For Nail Fungus Toxic
The newer drugs are unlikely to cause any liver problems in patients without known liver disease. Blood tests are not needed for once-weekly treatment with fluconazole however, people taking longer courses often have their liver function tested before starting the medicine and then retested during the course of treatment. It is important to notify the doctor of all side effects while on the medication. You should tell your doctor of all current medications to prevent potential serious drug interactions.
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Toenail Fungus: Symptoms Causes And Support Strategies
Toenail fungus is an experience most people have or will experience at one point in their life. It is a fungal infection affecting your toenails causing discoloration, thickening, brittleness, and other toenail issues. Conventional treatment strategies for toenail fungus only tend to address the symptoms. Unfortunately, without addressing the root cause issues behind your problem, your toenail fungus will keep returning. The good news is that by using a few natural support strategies you can address the toenail fungus itself and the underlying causes, improving your health and reducing your risks for toenail fungus.
In this article, you will learn what toenail fungus is. You will learn about the signs and symptoms of toenail fungus. I will go over the different types of toenail fungus. You will understand the risk factors of developing toenail fungus. I will explain your conventional treatment options for toenail fungus and potential issues with them. I will go over the root cause factors that may increase your chances of developing toenail fungus. I will offer my top natural strategies for toenail fungus to improve your health and well-being.
Tips For Prevention Of Fungal Nails
Nail fungus causes only 50% of abnormal-appearing nails. It can be hard to tell the difference between the different causes of discolored nails . Onychomycosis is often not treated. Reasons to receive treatment include
No one knows where a specific person catches the fungus, as it is everywhere. However, since the fungus does thrive in warm moist areas , there are certain areas one should avoid or use with caution. Shower floors, locker rooms, and swimming pools are suspected of being sources of the fungus, although there are no studies proving this fact. Nail polish and acrylic nails also make the nail less “breathable” and make the nail more susceptible to fungal infection. Fungi are everywhere — in the air, the dust, and the soil. Hygienic measures such as spraying socks and footgear sound sensible, and perhaps these measures can even help a little bit. However, avoiding tight, nonbreathing shoes or steering clear of athletic facility floors may very well be the best prevention available. Daily washing of the feet and drying between the toes can help to prevent nail fungus. The fungi carried on the coats of pets, like cats and dogs, don’t often cause nail fungus. Wearing white socks does not help.
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Nail Fungal Infection Treatment
Prescription medicines can treat a fungal nail infection. Oral antifungal medicines help a new nail grow. This will replace the infected nail. You may need to take antifungal medicine for 6 to 12 weeks. Some oral medicines are not safe for people who have liver problems. They are not safe for people who have a history of congestive heart failure. Tell your doctor if you have one of these conditions. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.
Apply topical treatments to the top of your nail. Topical medicines usually do not cure fungal nail infections.
In severe cases, a doctor might remove the nail completely. It can take several months to a year for the infection to go away.
Other Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus
Other, less common, symptoms can also present with fungal toenails.
Sometimes, scales with yellow patches will begin to form on the skin around the toenail.
Without treatment, a foul odor may begin to occur.
In addition, in some patients, the fungal toenail begins to loosen or lift up and separate from the nail bed.
When this happens, we call this onycholysis and pain usually presents due to this condition.
Usually, when this occurs, you begin to feel your socks snagging on your socks when you are removing them.
Also, when this symptom arises, you are at increased risk of the nail catching on your sheets or socks and getting totally ripped from the nail bed.
Another symptom less commonly associated with toenail fungus includes the presence of dermatophytids.
Dermatophytids are fungus-free skin lesions that cause itchiness or rashes in an area on your body that is not infected by the fungus.
This phenomena is similar to an allergic reaction.
Lastly, you have to consider the wide array of complications that can result from not treating toenail fungus. Click HERE to continue reading about all of the possible complications of toenail fungus.
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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 athlete’s foot as early as possible to stop the infection spreading to the nail. Athlete’s 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 athlete’s foot is itchy and scaling skin between the toes. See the separate leaflet called Athlete’s 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.
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.
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