Difficulties With Nail Infections
While many cases of fungus are mild, some become complicated. When issues are severe, the toxins can cause permanent damage to the nail, and you may lose it. The goal is to keep the infection from spreading to other body areas beyond the feet.
The biggest concern is those who have a compromised immune system, which can be dangerous if the infection gets out of control. Those with Type 2 diabetes can often have circulation issues too that affect their feet. This puts you at a greater risk of developing a bacterial skin infection like cellulitis that can be dangerous.
With diabetes, any infection that affects your feet can be a severe complication requiring prompt medical help. While most dont need to be concerned if there is a small dot of yellow or white under the nail, for the diabetic, its a cause for alarm.
Should One Surgically Remove The Toenail Affected By Fungus Infection
Not everyone needs a surgical removal of the toenail fungus. Doctors try saving the nails as surgical removal of nails could be painful sometimes and it takes a long time for the nail to grow again.
However, when the infection is recurring or a severe one, there is risk of fungi entering other organs or damaging the entire foot. So it is essential for the nail to be removed.
The entire nail is not necessarily removed in all cases. The doctor may remove only the debridement when the fungus infection can be cut off.
And, in worst cases, the doctor may need to remove the entire nail to prevent its spread.
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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Living With A Toenail Fungus Infection
A toenail fungus might not seem like a big deal compared to other health conditions, but it can affect daily life activities and function to some degree.
“Some patients experience pain, difficulty doing everyday activities, and fitting shoes. There is also a stigma surrounding nail fungus so many people are embarrassed that they have this,” says Dr. Lipner.
Treatment is a lengthy process. It can be daunting to keep up with the treatment schedule when the results are slow coming.
If you’re feeling depressed, embarrassed, and tired of dealing with pain and staying on top of your treatment, reach out to your doctor or mental health professional to chat about your concerns.
Next, these are the common foot problems and podiatrists’ solutions.
Facts You Should Know About Fungal Nails
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.
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Toenail Fungus Home Care
Sometimes itâs possible to treat your toenail fungus at home. You can try:
- Over the counter antifungal creams or ointments. File or cut off any white markings on your nails. Soak your nails in water and dry off before you put on the medicated cream.
- Special nail care. If you keep your nails trimmed, it can reduce the pressure and pain you feel. You can also thin your nail bed by filing it down. This can help antifungal creams get to the problem easier.
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, toenail fungus is considered a cosmetic problem. Still, it may cause serious complications for some people.
If you have diabetes, toenail fungus may lead to foot ulcers or other foot problems. According to a 2012 study, chronic toenail fungus is a significant risk factor for bacterial cellulitis of the leg.
If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you shouldnt use home remedies for toenail fungus. Contact your doctor for the appropriate course of action.
How Effective Is Laser Therapy For Toenail Fungus
About 10 percent of U.S. adults, or approximately 23 million people, suffer from toenail fungus infection. But unfortunately, the treatments that have been around a while oral medications and topical creams often dont really do the trick. The fungus usually comes back within 12 months. Plus, these treatments can have negative side effects and may have a bad interaction with other medications.
Luckily, laser therapy for toenail fungus is now an option. Since 2010, more than a handful of laser devices have been FDA approved and are used with success by podiatrists as a safe, quick, effective form of treatment.
But what is the process if you use laser therapy for toenail fungus and what can you expect, you ask?
To answer your questions, weve put together some basics on toenail fungus and laser treatment. Keep reading for a quick overview, and then, give it a try to see how it works for you. Our goal and the purpose of laser therapy is to help you clear up those nails so they can grow back healthy and strong.
How To Use Them
A person interested in trying a blend of essential oils can buy the oils online or from a health food store. Mix the oil with a carrier oil before applying the mixture to the affected nails.
Ozonized oils are oils infused with ozone gas. Examples of oils that are available in ozonized form include sunflower oil and olive oil.
According to , ozonized oils show positive effects similar to a traditional medication called terbinafine cream in treating one type of fungus. In this study, the researchers used rabbits to test the effectiveness of the treatment.
Another study carried out on 400 people tested how ozonized oils affected fungal infections. In this 2011 study , researchers used ozonized sunflower oil to treat toenail fungus.
Their results indicated that ozonized oils cured up to 90.5 percent of the total infections with only a 2.8 percent relapse rate after 1 year. The researchers concluded the ozonized sunflower oil works more effectively than ketoconazole cream, which is an antifungal medication.
What Toenail Fungus Infections Do To Your Toenails
It’s common to have fungus living harmlessly on your skin, but sometimes it can multiply and lead to a toenail infection. The fungus can easily spread when it invades the skin beside or under the toenail.
When it comes to the types of toenail fungus, distal sublingual onychomycosis is the most common subtype of onychomycosis, Dr. Lipner says.
In this condition, the fungus enters the nail bed underneath the nail, primarily affecting the big toe. The infection causes the toenails to thicken, and a yellowish-white to yellowish-brown discoloration occurs in the center of the toenail. There may be pain and mild inflammation.
Often the nail chips and becomes jagged, eventually separating from the nail bed. People with the highly contagious athlete’s foot are more prone to getting distal subungual onychomycosis.
“It is very common for family members to get it from other household contacts,” says Dr. Lipner.
Another subtype, called white superficial onychomycosis, is less common than distal. Unlike other forms of onychomycosis that affect toenails and fingernails, white superficial only affects the toenails.
“In white superficial onychomycosis, the infection is on the top layers of the hard part of the nail, not deep under the nail. So it is generally easier to treat,” says Dr. Lipner.
Symptoms of this type include small, white, powdery-looking patches that appear randomly on the toenail. The nail becomes soft and crumbles easily.
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Symptoms Of A Nail Fungus
The most common sign of a fungus of the nail is a thickened surface. Here are some other symptoms in the nails:
- Yellow or Brown Discoloration
- Debris Building Under the Nail
- Dark Coloring
- Impossible to Cut with Clippers Because its too thick
Fungus of the nails if quite common. It often starts as a white spot under the nail that is an annoyance more than anything else. However, as the infection grows and penetrates, you will see it turn colors, become thicker, and crumble. What started as a fungus affecting one nail can quickly spread to other toe or fingernails too.
Some mild conditions that are troublesome may not require treatment. However, when the nail becomes thick, turns colors, or has a foul smell, you can do some home-based therapies. Keep in mind that even if your efforts are successful, the fungus can return.
The same fungus that gets between the toes and causes athletes foot is called tinea pedis, and its not the same as onychomycosis or nail fungi, but having this infection in between the toes can undoubtedly spread to the nails if there is an opening that allows it to creep in.
Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus can be treated at home by simply using natural ingredients, available in your kitchen.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is considered to be an excellent antiseptic, and it works great on fungicide infections. Take pure tea tree oil and add a few drops of olive or thyme oil to it. Apply it on the affected area with the help of a cotton ball and keep it for ten minutes. Eventually, gently rub the nail with a soft toothbrush. This remedy will work affirmatively if the infection is not too old.
To cure toenail fungus, blend half cup of baking soda with a one-fourth cup of peroxide, half cup of Epsom salt, and four cups of hot water. After making this mixture, add a one-fourth cup of white vinegar to it. Soak the affected toe first into vinegar for a few minutes and then, apply this paste on the affected nail. Wrap it with a bandage or tape. For about four weeks, repeat the process in every ten hours. If this remedy is followed properly, the toe nail fungus will disappear quickly.
To get rid of toe nail fungus, orange oil is also a good option. It can be applied with the help of a dropper between toes and on and under toe nails, daily. Let it sit for at least one hour. Orange oil can also be used with an equal amount of any carrier oil.
Note- It is advisable to test some diluted orange oil on a small part of skin before applying it to the infected area as it can cause allergic reactions and can have side-effects.
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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.
Are Some People More Susceptible To Fungal Nail Infections
Although everyone is potentially susceptible, there are several risk factors that make a person more likely to get infected. Many factors are lifestyle-related and having an active lifestyle can often expose a person to situations where contact with fungus is more likely. There are also genetic and health factors that can increase the risk of infection for:
- People 55 years or older
- People with diminished blood circulation
- People with previous or existing injury or infection of the nail
- People with a weakened immune system
iIs nail fungus contagious?
Fungal nail infections are in fact contagious, but not in any way that should cause panic. Fungal infections commonly spread from the nail to the skin and vice versa. Many fungi called dermatophytes feed on keratin, the basic material of skin and hair, to grow and spread.
Accidental transmission from person to person is quite uncommon, unless there is constant intimate contact. The fungi that can cause nail fungus infections are very commonplace and are very difficult to avoid completely. Generally, in healthy individuals, the immune system will defend the body from infection and repel these fungi, even if they come into contact with the skin or the nail.
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What About The Cost Of Oral Medications For Fungal Nails
A further consideration is cost. Because newer oral antifungal agents are very expensive, some insurance companies balk at paying for what they consider a “cosmetic issue,” unless nail fungus causes pain or other functional symptoms. Terbinafine and fluconazole are now available as generic drugs and are quite inexpensive.
Toenail Fungus Infection Treatment
As a rule, toenail fungal infections require medical treatment. Over-the-counter products might help some of the symptoms, but it’s a temporary fix. To completely eradicate the fungus and keep it from spreading to other nailsâor peopleâprescription medicine is necessary.
Fair warningâthis isn’t a “one and done” kind of treatment. “It’s a one year for cure with both orals and topicals, says Dr. Lipner. “Orals are taken for three months, and topicals are taken for one year.” You can’t just blame fungus for that.
Toenails grow on average about one millimeter per month, and it takes a least a year for an entirely new, healthy toenail to grow. Treatments vary depending on the type and severity, but typically antifungal medicines are applied to the toenail daily or weekly, while you also take antifungal medicine pills.
It’s rare, but when medication doesn’t resolve the problem, the toenail is surgically removed or non-surgically with a chemical applied to the nail. The nail can grow back, but if the fungus is persistent, a dermatologist can treat the nail so it doesn’t grow back.
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Which Laser Therapy Device Is Best
We swear by our non-thermal cold laser device in treating toenail fungus in our practice. Its called Lunula Laser and its made by Erchonia. Its the first of its kind and the only non-thermal cold laser device to get FDA market clearance to treat onychomycosis.
This is likely thanks to its three successful clinical trials that ensure safety and effectiveness.
Whats so special about this laser? Besides the fact that its safe and effective, we love that it uses a low-level laser wavelength. Thanks to this type of cold laser, theres no discomfort or searing heat pain during treatment like with some of the other laser devices. The treatment also encompasses your entire foot. It requires no operator, so man-made errors are eliminated unlike with other lasers on the market.
The laser doesnt emit smoke fumes and 89% of patients have a positive response to the treatment.
Also, we love that this device is made in the United States.
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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