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What Causes Toe Nail Fungus

Special Groups At Risk For Complications In Severe Onychomycosis

Toenail Fungus, What Causes This? Dr. Richard Jacoby

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.

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.

Treating Toenail Fungus Without Medications Or Surgery

Toenail fungus can be tough to eliminate. Thats why Dr. Kaplan chooses to use laser energy rather than creams, medications, or even toenail removal surgery. Thanks to the CoolTouch® laser system, Dr. Kaplan often tackles pesky infections with anywhere from 1-3 treatments. Hello beautiful, clear nails!

If you need treatment for a fungal infection or want to learn more about CoolTouch laser treatments, were just a call or click away. Call our San Mateo or Half Moon Bay, California, office or request an appointment online for toenail fungus treatment.

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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:

How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

What is Toenail Fungus?

First, the bad news: Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Spielfogel both admit that toenail fungus is extremely hard to treat, especially at home.

“The most effective treatment is an oral systemic antifungal medication, such as Lamisil, once per day for 12 weeks,” says Dr. Jenkins. “It cures around 75% of patients, but 25% won’t be cured and will need repeat treatment or even a surgical treatment, like removing the toenail.”

For the most part, Dr. Jenkins says Lamisil is generally safe for use, though it canin rare casescause liver enzyme abnormalities. She adds that this side effect is almost never seen in children, and that your doctor will monitor these enzymes and perform frequent blood work during your course of treatment to ensure Lamisil is not negatively affecting your liver.

If you’re still concerned about Lamisil as a treatment option or you have an existing medical condition that prevents you from safely taking it, your doctor may prescribe a topical treatment instead…but those take a lot longer to work and only have a 25%-30% cure rate.

Finally, you can try a home remedy for toenail funguswhile most of them aren’t terribly effective, they don’t come with many side effects, either. If your toenail fungus is mild, you might be able to see results over time.

If you’re going to attempt an at-home remedy, it’s important to give your toenail some extra TLC, says Dr. Spielfogel: “Keeping the area clean and dry may help keep the infection under control.”

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Conditions That May Look Like Toenail Fungus

Several health conditions can affect the appearance of your toenails and may be mistaken for toenail fungus.

Psoriasis Psoriasis can cause red, scaly patches on the skin. More than half of people with skin psoriasis also have it on their nails. Toenails and fingernails affected by psoriasis may be thick, discolored, crumbly, or loose. Some people will have nail changes with psoriasis, and if it affects the matrix , then these changes are permanent, says Sheth.

Skin Cancer A discolored spot underneath a toenail may be a sign of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Melanoma under a toenail usually looks like a brown or black streak or may appear similar to a bruise. Although this isnt common, its also not rare, says Sheth. Her advice: Its always good to check it out.

Darier Disease This genetic disorder typically causes yellowish, wartlike blemishes on the body. However, some people with Darier disease also have fingernail or toenail irregularities, such as nails that are marked with red and white streaks, according to Genetics Home Reference. Sheth notes, however, that shes never had a biopsy come back with a diagnosis of Darier disease.

Toenail Fungus Requires Professional Treatment

If you suspect you have toenail fungus, dont wait to seek professional treatment. Dr. Tauber takes a whole-person approach to treating your toenails, so you may need oral antifungal medications as well as medicated nail polish or prescription creams to clear up the infection.

Additionally, she may recommend laser nail treatments with the Fotona ClearSteps system, or a combination of treatments that are best for your particular type of onychomycosis.

If your nails are crusted with keratin debris, Dr. Tauber can remove it so your toenails look better. If your infection is severe, she may recommend toenail surgery to temporarily remove the infected nail and treat the nail bed topically.

Take the first step toward putting your best, fungus-free foot forward by calling our office at 203-548-7688, or booking an appointment online today.

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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.

How To Treat Lifted Toenails

What is toenail fungus?

Fact Checked

Onycholysis is a condition that occurs when a fingernail or toenail separates from the pink skin on the nail bed. It’s usually preceded by a gradual separation that may or may not be noticeable because it typically is not associated with extensive pain. Traumatic injury is the most common cause of onycholysis, according to the Aetna Intelihealth website, although nail fungus contributes to a vast number of cases as well 1. Treatment for a lifted toenail varies depending on the cause.

See your doctor for a definitive diagnosis so that you can treat the underlying disease causing the irritable condition on your toes. Various diseases that can cause onycholysis include hyperthyroidism, diabetes and psoriasis. A fungal infection requires different medication to begin the healing process. Other conditions that can cause toenail lifting include overexposure to ultraviolet light, herpes and medication interactions.

Keep your toenail dry. After a bath or shower, take time to thoroughly dry all sides of your toe by patting gently and holding the towel over the exposed skin to soak up excess moisture. Wait to don socks or shoes until the surface is thoroughly dry.

Trim your nails closely to remove the ends of the toenails that have begun to separate. Use sterile, sharp clippers or scissors. You often can prevent losing the entire nail by cutting it as close as possible to prevent the loose nail portion from catching on a sock or tight shoes.

Tips

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Facts You Should Know About Fungal Nails

Many changes in fingernails or toenails may cause people to think they have a fungal infection of the nails, medically known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium.

Fungal infection of the nails sometimes makes the condition sound contagious or related to poor hygiene. In fact, up to 10% of all adults in Western countries have fungal infection of the nails. This percentage increases to 20% of adults who are age 60 or older. Toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus.

In reality, abnormal-looking nails may be caused by a number of conditions including, but not limited to, fungal infection. There are many other reasons why your nails may look different.

Whos At Risk For Fungal Infections

There are many different causes of fungal nail infections. Each cause has a treatment of its own. Although many of the causes of a fungal nail infection are preventable, some risk factors increase the likelihood of developing one. Youre more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you:

  • wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots

Nail infections occur more often in men than in women, and the infections are found in adults more often than in children. If you have family members who often get these types of fungal infections, youre more likely to get them as well.

Older adults have a high risk for getting fungal nail infections because they have poorer circulation. The nails also grow more slowly and thicken as we age.

A fungal infection of the nail may affect part of the nail, the entire nail, or several nails.

Common signs of a fungal nail infection include:

  • a distorted nail that may lift off from the nail bed
  • an odor coming from the infected nail
  • a brittle or thickened nail

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Whitish Or Yellowish Patch

Another type of fungal infection is called proximal subungual onychomycosis. It looks like a whitish or yellowish patch that starts at the base of the toenail, near the cuticle. The infection is rare in healthy people. More often, it happens in people with weakened immune systems. It can also be a sign of HIV.

How Can One Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

Listerine for Foot &  Toenail Fungus

Toenail Fungus can be treated in multiple ways.

  • 1. Over the Counter Treatments

Over the counter gets, creams, soaks, sprays, and oral medicines can work best when your toenail fungus is mild and has just begun.

You may use products containing Undecylenic Acid, Tolnaftate, Clotrimazole, Terbinafine, or Tea Tree Oil.

  • 2. Essential Oils

Milder Toenail Fungus can be treated with the application of diluted essential oils. Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender, Cinnamon , Lemon or Lemon Grass Essential Oils can be used for topical treatment of Toenail Fungus.

  • 3. Home Remedies

Some home remedies can be very effective in controlling the infection. These remedies can prevent the fungi from entering the tissue and spreading to the bloodstream.

Garlic, onion, ginger and lemon are the most common ingredients used in the treatment of toenail fungus.

  • 4. Diet & Exercise

Toenail Fungus has a lot to do with your immune system or your bodys natural defense mechanism.

If you eat healthy foods and exercise well, there are chances your immunity raises and fights the fungi.

Science explains how our bodys soldiers can destroy the thriving fungi within days if we have the right amount of them.

  • 5. Nail Hygiene

Maintaining hygiene is very important. As fungi can grow and multiply easily in moist and humid environments, you have to take care your toenails excessively.

Trimming and shaping the toenails can reduce chances of fungi entering your skin and prevents spread of infection.

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How To Prevent White Toenails

You might not be able to prevent white toenails entirely. After all, the chances of bumping your toenail at some point is pretty high.

And if you have a skin condition such as psoriasis, whitish toenails might be more challenging to fend off.

The wisest move toward reducing white toenails is to keep your eye out for changes in the toenail.

The earlier you notice a change, the betterâespecially when it comes to toenail fungus, which can spread to other toes and people. Here’s what you can do at home to help prevent white toenails.

What Is Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a widespread fungal infection that affects the toenails. Less commonly, nail fungus infects the fingernails. Nail fungus is also called onychomycosis.

Toenail fungus happens when fungi get between the toenail and the toenail bed . This usually happens through a crack or cut in your toe.

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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.

References

White Spots And Streaks

Toenail Fungus Causes, Symptoms and Natural Treatment | Ask Eric Bakker

Stubbing your toe doesnât always lead to a bruise. Thatâs because the blood vessels under the nail might not break and leak blood. Instead, you might get a white spot on your toenail. It wonât donât disappear like a bruise, but it will grow out in time. Toe trauma can also cause a white streak — though you might not know you hurt yourself. For example, it can happen when sneakers are too small and your toe hits the front of the shoe.

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Examining The Causes Symptoms And Treatment Of Toenail Fungus

It is important to keep your body healthy, from your head right down to your toes. Toenail fungus is a common condition that can impact the health of your toenails and lead to pain and embarrassment. If you are concerned about toenail fungus, schedule an appointment with a foot doctor in Sugar Land to have your feet examined. You can also find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for toenail fungus below.

Causes

Nail fungus is a type of fungal infection that can take root in the space between your nails and your skin. Toenail fungal infections are more common than fingernail infections, as the toes are often confined in socks and shoes, which provide an ideal environment for fungal growth. Toenail fungus is often spread in warm, damp areas, such as in locker rooms and around public swimming pools.

Symptoms

Toenail fungus can have a variety of effects on the nails. This type of infection can cause the toenails to become discolored and yellowed. Infected nails may also thicken as the infection spreads. Other common symptoms which indicate that you should schedule an appointment with your podiatrist include nails that are distorted, dull, and brittle. Toenail fungus may affect just one of the nails on a foot, or can spread to several nails. You may also feel pain in your toes or notice a foul odor coming from your toenails if you are suffering from toenail fungus.

Treatment

How Do I Know If I Have A Fungal Nail Infection

Because other infections can affect the nail and mimic symptoms of a fungal nail infection, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to see a doctor. Theyll take a scraping of the nail and look under a microscope for signs of fungus.

In some cases, your doctor may send the sample to a lab for analysis and identification.

Over-the-counter products arent usually recommended to treat nail infections since they dont provide reliable results. Instead, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as:

  • terbinafine

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What Are The Treatments For Black Toenail

Fungal infections of the toes are relatively treatable at home when caught early. Over-the-counter ointments, creams, and polishes are usually effective. Severe cases may require a prescription antifungal treatment.

If a black toenail is caused by an injury, the resulting spot from broken blood vessels will disappear once your nail grows out.

Black toenail caused by trauma from an injury usually resolves on its own without treatment. However, if your toenail grows out and it still appears black, then the symptoms might be related to another underlying cause.

Toenail discoloration related to diabetes and other health conditions requires treatment for the underlying causes.

Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus

What Causes Foot &  Toenail Fungus?

If your toenail fungus is caused by something in your control , then yes. You can:

  • Wear shoes in public areas, especially ones that are typically wet, like pools and gyms.
  • Keep foot injuries clean and covered until they’re healed.
  • Protect your overall health by not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Wear supportive and breathable shoes.
  • You also may see a reduction in bouts of toenail fungus by keeping your toenails consistently clean, dry, trimmed, and free of nail polish .

    However, many causes of toenail fungus are caused by other conditions, like chronic illness, old age, and diabetes, and there may not be much you can do to prevent fungus in these situations. Dr. Spielfogel does recommend using preventative products if you know you’re at risk for fungal infections the Dr.’s Remedy line of nail care products, for example, includes an antifungal cuticle oil that can be used nightly to reduce the risk of fungal growth.

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