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Why Does Nail Fungus Occur

Hosiery And Toenail Fungus

Nail Fungus – Why Does it Occur How to Get Rid of Nail Fungus

Wearing pantyhose can lead to sweaty feet and the potential for a toenail fungal infection. Nylon hosiery doesnt absorb sweat, so when wearing hosiery inside a shoe, theres an increased chance of fungal growth, Zinkin says. If you must wear hosiery, put some antiperspirant or baby powder on your feet before slipping into your stockings. This will help reduce sweating and the chance of fungus growing.

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Causes Of Nail Fungus

In a perfect world, just knowing what causes fungal infections in nails would be enough to avoid getting them, but unfortunately there are some risk factors you have no control over. For example, men are more likely to contract nail fungus than women are. Age is another factor in fact, the older you get, the greater your chances are of contracting nail fungus, especially for those aged 60 or older . A family history of nail fungus also plays a part in the likelihood of you getting it.

Fungi are plant-like parasites, and they exist on your body even when you are not suffering an infection. Although nail infections can be caused by yeast, the most common culprits of fungal nail infections are dermatophytes. In fact, 90 percent of fungus-related toenail infections occur when dermatophytes set up residence on your toes . So, what’s so appealing about your toenails? They’re a food source for the fungi. Keratin, the main protein that makes up your skin, hair and nails, is apparently a tasty treat for dermatophytes .

Whether the odds are simply stacked against you or you’ve forgotten to wear your flip-flops in the locker room shower one too many times, getting a nail fungus does not mean you’re doomed to thick, painful nails for the rest of your life. There are several ways to treat fungal infections. Keep reading to learn about them.

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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Will Nail Fungus Grow Out

If you are treating your nail, then it may indeed grow out. There are a number of over-the-counter topical treatments that work to immobilise the spread of the infection and then strengthen the nail to grow out, ditching the infected cells on the way out. However, infection usually strikes the nail bed as well as the nail, so just allowing your nail to grow without doing anything to combat the nail fungus is generally a bad move, as the fungi can just spread from the nail bed into the newly grown nail.

Facts You Should Know About Fungal Nails

Heres How You Can Treat Toenail Fungus at Home

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.

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Why Does Toenail Fungus Occur

While we stated that your chances of fungal infections grow with age, there are many other reasons fungus will attach and infect our nails .

Those factors include:

  • Climate Hotter, more humid climates can cause your feet to stay wet and sweaty, making them the optimal place for fungus to grow.
  • Health There are many health issues, like athletes foot, diabetes, and cancer that heighten your chance of getting an infection.
  • Lifestyle Jobs or hobbies that keep your hands and feet wet and sweaty provide fungus the perfect place to grow. Smoking can also increase your risk.
Take Home Note:
Nail fungus can happen to anyone, but it is more common with certain risk factors. Some of these factors we can easily change, like limiting the time our hands and feet are wet, or to stop smoking. Others may be more difficult to change, like the climate in which we live in.

Is It Toenail Fungus Or Something Else

Odd-looking toenail? It may be a fungal infection, but there’s a good chance that another condition could be to blame.

If you notice an odd spot on your toenail, you might assume its a fungal infection. However, theres a good chance that its not.

Spots or discolorations on or under a toenail could be bruises resulting from trauma to the nail, blood blisters, warts, or even subungual melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says Ami Sheth, a doctor of podiatric medicine in Los Gatos, California, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Since nail irregularities can be caused by diseases besides these as well, its best to get it looked at, says Dr. Sheth.

Richard Goad, a doctor of podiatric medicine at Baylor Scott & White Health in Waco, Texas, concurs. Sometimes the nail will be the first place to show another underlying problem, Dr. Goad says.

So is it a fungus, a false alarm, or another condition entirely?

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Can You Prevent 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.

    Whos At Risk For Fungal Infections

    Why Do Diabetics Get More Fingernail and Toenail Fungus?

    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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    What Is The Prognosis Of Fungal Nails

    Curing fungal nails can be difficult and treatment can take up to 18 months. Relapse and reinfection are common. Trying to remove or modify your risk factors, if possible, is essential to preventing reinfection. People who have medical illnesses that predispose them to fungal nails can have an even more difficult time eradicating the fungus.

    What Does Nail Disease Look Like

    Several symptoms may alert you to a problem with nail fungus or disease. These include:

    • Streaks or white spots on the surface of a nail
    • Discoloration of brown or gray on the nail
    • Crumbling of a nail
    • The nail becomes soft

    If the nail and underlying skin are both affected by infection, symptoms may include brittleness or breaking, thickening of the nail, or yellow streaks underneath the nail.

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    Why Does Toe Nail Fungus Happen

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    Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!

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    How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Nail Fungus

    Toenails problem

    To find out if a patient has nail fungus, a dermatologist examines your nails and nearby skin. Its important to check the skin because the fungus can spread. You may already have a skin infection caused by fungus like athletes foot.

    To get rid of the infection, you will need to treat all infected areas.

    Before giving you the diagnosis, your dermatologist may also take some samples. Collecting a bit of debris from beneath a nail, trimming off part your nail, or scraping off a bit of skin can be very helpful. In a lab, these samples can be examined under a microscope to find out whats causing the problem.

    Are you hiding an infected nail with nail polish?

    Be sure to ask your dermatologist if you can wear nail polish while treating nail fungus.

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    What Causes Fungal Nails And What Are Some Of The Risk Factors

    In normal, healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by fungus that is caught from moist, wet areas. Communal showers, such as those at a gym or swimming pools, are common sources. Going to nail salons that use inadequate sanitization of instruments in addition to living with family members who have fungal nails are also risk factors. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting, sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having athlete’s foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. Repetitive trauma also weakens the nail, which makes the nail more susceptible to fungal infection.

    Elderly people and people with certain underlying disease states are also at higher risk. Anything that impairs your immune system can make you prone to getting infected with the fungus. These include conditions such as AIDS, diabetes, cancer, psoriasis, or taking any immunosuppressive medications like steroids.

    Here Are 5 Places And Scenarios Where You Might Catch A Toenail Fungus:

  • You could catch a toenail fungus from being barefoot in a communal shower . This is a very common way to catch toenail fungus.
  • Wearing used shoes such as shoes from the thrift store, or even hand-me-down football cleats.
  • You could catch a nail fungus from a nail salon as some may not properly sanitize equipment in between clients. They might also cause small micro-tears in the nail, creating a vulnerability in the nail.
  • Using shared personal items such as nail clippers, towels, socks.
  • Spa saunas or even hot tubs might pose a risk of contagious toenail fungal infection if someone who has the infection used it before you.
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    What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus

    The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan thats customized to you.

    Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.

    Why Toenail Fungus Is So Stubborn

    What Causes Toenail Pain – Part 2

    A fungal infection in your toenails is typically caused by a tiny organism called dermatophyte fungus. This type of fungus thrives in warm, moist environments think public swimming pools or locker rooms where it can be easily transferred between people.

    Once you pick up the infection, it can spread fairly quickly, largely because you keep your feet inside shoes, creating the perfect environment for fungal growth.

    Making matters worse, your toenails are fairly thick and made up of many layers, which means the fungus can set up shop deep within these layers, making it more difficult to target. In moderate-to-severe cases, the fungus can even get into the matrix of your nail, which means any new toenail growth is already infected.

    Rounding out the list of hurdles is the fact that your toes dont benefit from great circulation, so your immune system is less likely to detect and fight off the foreign invaders.

    What all of this amounts to is that many people think that a toe fungal infection is coming back when it never really went away in the first place.

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    Experiencing Nail Fungus In Its Early Stages

    Fungal nail infections are becoming a common nail problem, especially if you frequent public bathrooms, gym, saunas, or spas. People often dismiss nail fungus because it generally does not give any discomfort and the first signs are often hard to detect. Brown or black spots and white streaks may signify an infection in your nail. It may later on progress to more evident changes wherein the nail thickens or have a rougher surface. Although not bothersome, leaving a fungal nail infection untreated can make it harder and more frustrating to cure in the end.Total dystrophic onychomycosis, or severe nail fungal infections, is the end-stage of this nail disease. Fungus has started to infect larger portions of the nail causing it to become deformed, brittle, and weak. More often than not, it starts to become painful and even emit some type of foul odor. There is increased possibility for permanent damage to the nail. The infection may also spread to other parts of your body and create more serious illnesses.

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    How Long Does The Toe Nail Fungus Test Take

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    Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!

    HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.

    Can Nail Fungal Infections Be Painful

    Fungal Nails

    Nail fungal infections are usually not alarming. Discolorations in the form of black spots or white streaks may dictate that your nails are infected. These early signs and symptoms normally do not provide any discomfort, and because of this, they can also be easily dismissed. However, as nail fungus progresses, it only exacerbates the problem.Severe onychomycosis is the end-stage and most advanced form of nail fungal infections. This is not only the most difficult stage to clear, but it is also the type of infection with the highest risk to permanent nail damage, secondary bacterial infection, and eventually gangrene. The prevalence of onychomycosis is increasing. In the United States alone, almost 6 to 12 percent of the population are suffering from this nail problem.

    Severe nail fungus usually begins with nail discoloration it might be white, black, yellow, or green. The nails become thick and deform to an unusual shape and texture, making them difficult to trim. The nails health also suffers and the structure starts to become weak, brittle, and crumbly. Later on, the thickness of the nail inflicts pain and discomfort, particularly when placing pressure on the affected area. The pain may start to interfere with your daily activities, like standing, walking, and exercising. Being aware of how severe nail fungus manifests is key to preventing it.

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    How To Get Rid Of Nail Fungus

    Toenail fungus is notoriously difficult to treat.

    In order to be rid of the fungus, youâll need the nail to fully grow out while treating it. And, nails grow slowly, so change can take time.

    A fungus is not like a bacteria that can be washed away with some soap and water, or treated with antibiotics. A fungus infection will require an antifungal treatment and the growth of new healthy toenails.

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