Treatment Challenges: What To Expect And What To Do
Treating nail fungus infections is challenging. From a patients point of view, one of the main frustrations is that nail fungus infections take considerable time to clear, even when the treatment is working. Typically, topical treatments are prescribed for a year and oral treatments require several months of treatment before your nails return to normal.
Having realistic treatment expectations is very important
Its important that you speak with your physician and the pharmacist so that you understand the expected outcome and duration of treatment, as well as possible side effects of the treatment. Unrealistic expectations often lead to dissatisfaction, poor compliance or failure to continue the treatment as instructed.
Nail fungus infection takes a long time to treat
The appearance of the damaged nail will not return to normal even after the fungi are cleared, until the damaged nail grows out and is replaced by the healthy nail. It takes fingernails about six months to re-grow completely, and toenails require 12-18 months.
The cure rate for nail fungus infection treatments is not 100%. Understand that your treatment may fail and you may need to try again, or use a different treatment regimen. Recurrence is common with this condition.
How Is Toenail Fungus Diagnosed
The doctor will examine your toenails. The doctor will also likely send a sample off to the lab to identify the nature of the infection. This can be done by clipping the nails or by scraping under the nail. Prescription medications may be recommended immediately, but knowing exactly whats causing the infection can determine the best course of treatment. Other types of infection can cause similar symptoms, including yeast and bacterial infections. Though not an infection at all, psoriasis can also sometimes mimic toenail fungus.
Types Of Toenail Fungus With Pictures
There are four different types of toenail fungus, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. Deciding which type of toenail fungus you have is easier if you know what to look for. These pictures act as a visual guide.
The most common type is distal subungual Onychomycosis, which accounts for as many as 85% of cases. The fungus is easy to distinguish because it causes thick, discolored nails, scaling underneath of it, and nails that easily crumble.
Onychomycosis, better known as toenail fungus, is a common ailment that affects millions of people every year. Characterized by changes in the color of the toenail, such as looking white, black, or yellow, the fungus is an infection underneath the nail that is caused by yeast or other bacteria. They attack the keratin found in your nail to survive, and if left untreated, toenail fungus can cause an embarrassing, foul-smelling odor that prevents you from wearing sandals or otherwise feeling comfortable being barefoot.
Some people suffer from white superficial Onychomycosis, which occurs when the nail turns white and begins to crumble.
People who have ailments that suppress their immune systems may suffer from proximal subungual Onychomycosis, which turns the nail white near the cuticle.
Finally, candidal Onychomycosis is a type of fungus that causes the nail to separate completely from the bed.
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What Are Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms And Signs
- Fungal nail infection usually does not cause any symptoms unless the nail becomes so thick it causes pain when wearing shoes. People with fungal nail infection usually go to the doctor for cosmetic reasons, not because of physical pain or problems related to fungal nail infection.
- As the nail thickens, however, fungal nail infection may interfere with standing, walking, and exercising.
- Paresthesia , pain, discomfort, and loss of agility may occur as the disease progresses. Loss of self-esteem, embarrassment, and social problems can also develop.
- Severe cases of Candida infections can disfigure the fingertips and nails.
Symptoms or signs of fungal nail infection based on subtype
Fungal nail infection is divided into subtypes that can be identified based on where the infection appears to be located relative to the structure of the nail.
What Are The Risks Of Leaving Toenail Fungus Untreated
Some of the risk factors include:
- Thick, misshapen toenails that cause pain when walking or wearing shoes.
- Spread of the fungus, resulting in athletes foot, or to the genitals, resulting in jock itch.
- Widespread infection resulting in cellulitis, which is a risk especially for individuals with a compromised immune system.
- Avulsion or loss of nails if the infection isnt treated or doesnt get better.
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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.
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Top 3 Reasons To Treat Nail Fungus
One of the most common reasons patients want to treat their nail fungus is to improve the appearance of their nails.
This is especially true of fingernails, but even toenails can be a concern during the summer when they are more visible. Nail fungus can cause embarrassment and some sufferers stop activities, such as yoga or swimming, so that others will not see their toenails.
Pain and Mobility
If left untreated, fungal nail infections can cause pain and mobility problems. These can occur as the nails thicken when the infection progresses. It may become uncomfortable to wear closed shoes and to walk, exercise or stand. For this reason, early treatment is recommended before the infection becomes more severe or has spread to other toenails.
Recurrence and Transmission
Although nail fungus rarely causes serious health risks, the nail can become a fungal reservoir leading to recurrent fungal infections of the skin. These can cause fissures or cracks, leaving the feet more vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections. People with a weakened immune system, such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, may be more susceptible to both fungal infections and other secondary infections, resulting from it such as cellulitis.
Possible Risks And Complications
A podiatry laser has no effect on healthy tissue. It targets only the infected areas. Happily, patients who undergo laser nail treatment for fungus removal should experience no discomfort during or after the treatment.
In some cases, patients have reported feeling a warming sensation or a slight pinprick.
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What Is The Outlook For Someone With 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 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.
What Are The Subtypes Of Fungal Nail Infections
Fungal nail infection is divided into clinical subtypes based on the cause and progress of the infection.
- Distal lateral subungual onychomycosis is the most common form of fungal nail infection. In DLSO, the fungus generally spreads from the skin and invades the underside of the nail where the nail meets the nail bed. Inflammation in these areas of the nail causes the symptoms of DLSO.
- White superficial onychomycosis is a rare infection caused by the fungi directly invading the surface of the nail plate and secondarily infecting the nail bed.
- In proximal subungual onychomycosis , the least common subtype, the fungi invade the cuticle and the nail fold and then penetrate the nail plate .
- Like DLSO, in endonyx onychomycosis , the fungi reach the nail via the skin. Instead of infecting the nail bed, however, the fungi immediately invade the nail plate.
- Fungal nail infection related to yeast infection is a little different from fungal nail infection related to other fungal infections. Candidal fungal nail infection has several characteristics:
- Onycholysis describes the nail separating from the nail bed.
- Chronic mucocutaneous disease involves the nail plate and eventually the nail fold .
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Prevention And Treatment Of Nail Fungus
Feet care: cut the nails and baths with water.
Pay special attention to the nails is essential to prevent the presence of fungi.
The infection of the nails can be caused by ringworm, in which case it is called nail tinea, or by candid or yeast. On both occasions, the symptoms are similar, so it is necessary for a specialist to determine the treatment.
The best way to prevent nail fungus is to maintain good body hygiene.
Care should also be taken with the instruments used for manicures and pedicures, especially in public places such as beauty salons and spas.
It is important that you dry your hands and feet well after contact with water. Keep spaces such as bathtubs and showers clean. Finally, avoid wearing shoes and socks without first having properly dried the feet.
In case of noticing symptoms of an infection in the nails, go to the specialist doctor to determine the ideal treatment to fight the infection. Remember that each case is different, so you need a specific treatment.
You must attack the fungus quickly to avoid complications such as losing the nail. Also avoid manipulating the nail with nail clippers or other implements so that they do not become infected or your infection is not complicated due to cuts.
Dont forget to everything about feet and hand nail fungus with your friends and family on your social networks!
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.
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Causes Of Toenail Fungus
Your toenails are frequently being exposed to the pathogen that causes fungal infections.
In fact, fungus and bacteria can be found almost anywhere, from public pools and locker rooms to the inside of your own shoes warm, damp, and dark places are the perfect environment for fungus to thrive. And when it finds a home in which to fester, the fungus begins to damage the keratin in the nail and, in severe cases, even cause debilitating pain.
However, fungal toenails can also develop in other ways in some cases, the fungus is contracted after an initial injury to the nail bed. Something as simple as a stubbed toe or an ingrown toenail can make the area more susceptible to the development of this condition.
In other cases, toenail fungus is the result of other underlying conditions that may contribute to a person developing infections in general. A good example of this is diabetes if you are living with diabetes, then you are already at a higher risk of infection, so when fungi comes into the picture, it is likely to take hold of the nail quite quickly.
What Is Nail Fungus Infection
Nail fungus infection develops when fungus attacks one or a few of your nails. This condition is also quite commonly referred to as Onychomycosis. Depending on how severe your infection is it might affect all nail or only part of it. Also you should know that based on the type of fungus infection you have, it might affect nail and skin or only nail. In most cases fungal infection starts when fungi attacks your nail through a space, which is present between nail bed and your nail or it can also enter through skin cuts that are around your nails.
In the beginning of infection you will notice a small spot under your toenail or fingernail, which can be either yellow or white. When this condition progresses you nail will become discolored and thicker. Also for some people this infection causes nail splitting and crumbling, which might even lead to nail separation from the skin.
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Feet And Hand Nail Fungus Causes
Onychomycosis is the presence of fungus on the nails, which usually affects the feet.
Known as onychomycosis, infection of the nails is caused by fungi that produce pain, stinging and even loss of the nail. The fungi on the finger and toenails are a concern because they affect a very used area of the body.
Although fungal infection can affect anyone, there are several factors that make some are more likely to suffer from this condition.
The fungi multiply in humid and hot environments, so that those who are exposed to these types of spaces on a daily basis may be more prone.
The contact with detergents and abrasive substances promotes the appearance hand nail fungus. The tasks in which the hands are kept wet can also favor the appearance of fungi.
Another risk factor for developing onychomycosis is the use of very tight or unventilated shoes for long periods of time. Athletes often suffer from this type of fungus, since they usually wear shoes that are tight for a long time.
In addition, most of the changing rooms and dressing rooms are closed and humid spaces. You can also develop nail fungus if you:
- have diabetes
- get your manicure, pedicure or sculpted nails without taking the relevant hygienic precautions
- are old
How To Prevent Toenail Fungus
Because fungi are everywhere , they can be present months before they find opportunities to strike and before signs of infection appear. By following certain precautions, including proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes, chances of the problem occurring can be significantly reduced.
- Regularly clean and dry feet to resist disease. Follow a strict regimen of washing the feet with soap and water.
- Change socks and hosiery daily and change out shoes on a regular basis.
- Clip toenails straight across so the nail doesnt extend beyond the tip of your finger or toenails.
- Wear socks that are made of synthetic fiber to wick away moisture. Cotton and wool socks dont wick away moisture as fast as synthetic fiber does. This can be helpful in denying a hospitable environment for the fungi to grow in.
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How To Prepare To See Your Doctor
- List any symptoms, even ones that you feel are not likely related to your nail condition. This can affect your doctors treatment choices.
- List any medications that you are currently taking. Some nail fungus treatments may have interactions with other drugs. List any allergies or other personal information that may be relevant.
- Inform the doctor of any other health problems that you have. Conditions like cancer, diabetes and psoriasis can make you more vulnerable to infection or could make certain treatment options not good for you.