Is It Nail Fungus Or Something Else
While a trained professional is the best source of diagnosing conditions, you can get a general idea of what type of situation you have based on the symptoms. Start by looking at your nails and nail bed.
If its a fungal infection, you might see yellow streaks. You might notice pieces of skin and fragments of the nail under the nail. The nail may be discolored and might . The nail itself might be brittle, broken, or thickened.
Several common nail conditions are commonly mistaken for nail fungus, however.
Because other problems share characteristics with fungal infections, your best bet is to consult a doctor to make sure it IS a toenail fungus infection and not something more serious.
The following are nail conditions that have similar symptoms to nail fungus.
Foot Fungus: Causes And Risk Factors
A foot fungus is a fungal infection of the skin, better known as athletes foot, says Sundling. The fungus enters through cracks in the skin. Its known as athletes foot because athletes or anyone who is more active and sweats a lot is more at risk. Kids are also more at risk, because they dont tend to wear different shoes, and changing your shoes is one way to avoid foot fungus.
Foot fungus is very common. It does not mean that someone is dirty or didnt bathe, and if you have a compromised immune system, you may be more susceptible, says Sundling.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Cure Toe Fungus In 10 Minutes
Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take For Fungus To Go Away
Nail Fungus Consumer Review
Did you take off your shoes and discover a black toenail? Once youre over the bad surprise of finding it, its important to determine the cause to apply the best possible treatment. Is it black toenail fungus? Was your toe injured? Could it be related to cancer or diabetes?
Most often a black toenail is caused by an injury or a fungal infection. Sometimes a home treatment solves the problem. Sometimes you should visit a doctor. Whats the right thing to do?
Keep reading to learn how to identify, prevent, and treat black toenails in the most appropriate way.
How Fungal Nail Infections Start
So why did you get the fungal nail infection but your gym buddy didnt or why is only one nail currently infected but not the rest? A fungal nail infection starts when a spore comes in contact with your toenail and is able to invade the nail through an opening like if your nail is injured or damaged. After the fungus takes hold, it feeds on the keratin that your nails are composed of, causing changes to the appearance and colour of the nail. The infection can also cause a mild inflammatory response which can lift the nail and trap more fungus, spores and bacteria beneath, making effective treatment even more difficult especially if youre only using a surface-level cream or ointment.
You are more vulnerable to an infection taking hold if you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, are older, have medical conditions like diabetes or circulatory problems or have Athletes foot. While this may explain why some people may start growing the infection faster than others, it can only take a stubbed toe or some slight damage to the nail from not being careful when trimming the nail or getting a pedicure to skyrocket your risk.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Green Nail Fungus
Take A Warm Foot Bath And Moisturize
Soften thicker toenails that are difficult to cut.
Place your feet in a warm bath using about a teaspoon of salt per pint of water. Let them soak for about 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly.
Moisturize your toenails to make them easier to cut.
Dont forget the skin surrounding the nails. Dry and cracking skin is vulnerable to bacteria and fungus.
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.
Also Check: How Can You Treat Toenail Fungus
What Is Black Toenail Fungus
If you have a dark, thick toenail, it could be toenail fungus, which is usually caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. It affects the toenail and the area beneath the nail and causes color changes, thickening, and abnormally shaped nails.
Its fairly common, with at least 12% of American adults diagnosed with it, according to Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Older adults and people with diabetes, circulation problems, or a weakened immune system are more likely to have toenail fungus.
This infection doesnt usually go away on its own, and it can take a year or more to treat it with prescription medications. These are applied to the nail or taken in pill form.
What Is The Treatment For Fungal Nails
Oral antifungal therapy has a high cure rate, depending on the medication. It can take nine to 12 months to see if it has worked or not, because that is how long it takes for the nail to grow out. Even when therapy works, the fungus may come back. Currently, an oral antifungal therapy is considered the best treatment for toenail fungus because of higher cure rates and shorter treatment duration compared to topical therapy.
Prescription oral medications that are effective against nail fungus include the following:
There are several innovative treatments that are still being tested:
- Laser therapy or uses application of light-activated agents onto the nail followed by shining light of a proper wavelength on the nail.
- Use of electrical current to help absorption of topical antifungal medications into the nail: This is also called iontophoresis.
- Use of a special nail lacquer that changes the micro-climate of the nail to make it inhospitable for the fungus to grow: If this works, it may be an inexpensive way to treat this problem in the future.
One way to definitively get rid of toenail fungus is by surgery. Surgical treatment of onychomycosis involves nail removal. However, this often only provides temporary relief, and recurrence is common unless additional antifungal medication is simultaneously used. However, surgical removal may be warranted when the affected nail is associated with other factors such as trauma and or infection.
Don’t Miss: How To Tell If You Have Nail Fungus
Looking For A Dermatologist
SkyMD is a nationwide telehealth platform with a team of the best-certified dermatologists available online.
SkyMD serves patients across all the US states. It provides the best diagnosis for your ailments and is convenient and easy to use.
Our patients have access to doctors 24×7 and the prescribed medicines are sent to the pharmacy of your choice.
If you are suffering from black toenails or other skin or health conditions, book an appointment today!
Common Conditions Treated
Whos At Risk For Black Fungus
People with poorly controlled diabetes are most at risk for this disease. All fungus takes advantage of a weakened immune system to gain entry and thrive.
Other diseases or factors that put you at risk for a black fungus infection are:
- Organ transplant or stem cell transplant
- Steroid drugs such as those used in treating Covid-19
- Injection drug use
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Green Fingernail Fungus
How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus
Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:
- Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
- If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
- Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
- Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
- Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
- If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
- Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
- Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across .
- Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.
Ozonized Sunflower Oil And Other Ozonated Oils
Ozonized sunflower oil combines sunflower oil and ozone and is made by treating the sunflower oil with ozone which leads to an ozone reservoir that slowly releases into the skin or nail area. Ozone is one of the best bacteriacidal, antifungal, and antiviral agents known and represents a promising and needed alternative to current antimicrobials, because it is cheap to make and can avoid resistance. A laboratory study showed ozonized sunflower oil inhibited the growth of 5 different strains of fungi, although this was less than with conventional agents such as fluoconazole or itraconazole. Another study that compared ozonized sunflower oil twice a day for three months to ketoconazole 2% cream, found 90.5% were cured and 9.5% reported an improvement in their nail fungus with Oleozon compared to only 13.5% cured with ketoconazole and 27.5% improved. 59% remained the same.
Verdict: Ozonized oils including ozonized sunflower oil are promising antifungal agents that appear significantly more effective than conventional agents when used to treat toenail fungus.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Bad Foot Fungus
Nail Fungus: Polish Cream Or Tablets
Nail fungus can be very persistent. Topical treatment with nail polish may take up to one year. Tablets for treating fungal nail infections usually have to be taken for several weeks or months. They are much more effective than topical treatments, but they have more side effects.
Brittle nails and a whitish-yellowish or brownish discoloration are typical signs of nail fungus. The nails may also become thicker and change shape. The affected part of the nail sometimes detaches from the nail bed. The treatment options for nail fungus include nail polishes and creams as well as tablets. Nail polishes and creams are available in pharmacies without a prescription.
Read Also: How To Take Off Dip Powder
Does Toenail Fungus Turn Black After It Dies
Yes, a detached toenail can turn black after it dies.
- The most common pathway for this to happen is for fungus to an infected toenail. The toenail then can start to rip away from the toe after it gets thick and black.
- This can cause dry blood to form between the toenail and the skin, and eventually, the toenail dies.
- The toenail then starts to rot and become overrun by bacteria and toenail fungus.
- This eventually can make toenail fungus turn black after it dies.
Also Check: Which Doctor For Nail Fungus
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, athletes 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 youve injured your toenail, your odds for getting toenail fungus go up.
If Your Toenails Areyellow Or Brown
A common reason for yellow or brown nails is toenail fungus. And if this is the case, it’s likely your nails will be thick and brittle, too. Toenail fungus can happen from wearing moist sneakers or wearing the same pair for too long. The insides of shoes are a perfect environment to harbor fungal organisms. This condition often begins as an infection in the skin, says Cunha. As the nail fungus penetrates deeper into the nail, it may cause the nail to discolor, thicken, and develop crumbling edges.
Treatment of this condition depends largely on the severity of the infection, and to find that out, experts say you should really go to a doctor and get a nail biopsy. This will help guide exactly what to do about it. A nail biopsy sounds kind of extreme in a world where the drugstore offers plenty of OTC remedies. But if you really want something that works against toenail discoloration and fungusand you do, because nail fungus can take a long time to get rid ofyou need to see a doctor and get that biopsy to be sure you’re using the right product to solve the right problem.
There are other reasons for yellow and brown nails as well, including complications from diabetes. If you have diabetes, make sure your doctor checks your feet every time you visit . Yellow nails could also signifyin rare casesrespiratory or lung issues.
Also Check: What Do Doctors Prescribe For Toenail Fungus
Fungal Nail Infection Causes
Itâs a good idea to wash your hands and feet often. Use soap, and make sure you get between your fingers and toes.
Keep your fingernails and toenails short and trimmed straight across.
Wear socks that wick away moisture. If your feet sweat a lot, change your socks once or twice a day, or take off your shoes and let your feet cool when you have the chance.
Use antifungal powder or spray on your feet as well as in your shoes. Throw away old pairs of closed-toe shoes since fungi might be living in them.
If you get manicures at nail salons, visit only the ones that disinfect tools after each client. You can also bring your own file and clippers from home. Ask that your cuticles not be cut, since this can cause tiny breaks in the skin that let germs in.
Donât share towels if someone else in your family has nail fungus. This will pass around the infection.
See your doctor if you think you have nail fungus. You may need a prescription to treat it, whether that means taking a medicine by mouth or using a special cream. In severe cases, your nail may need to be removed so a healthy new one can grow in its place. Doctors can also use lasers to treat nail fungus.
You get an infection when a crack in your nail or the skin around it allows fungus to get inside and grow.
Youâre more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
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.
You May Like: What Medication Treats Toenail Fungus
Causes Of Toenail Fungus
- Onychomycosis stems from a number of fungal pathogens, primarily a certain group of fungi known as dermatophytes. Other relatively less common carriers of this infection are yeast and mold.
- Your susceptibility to this type of infection increases with age as older people tend to have increasingly brittle and dry nails that may allow the fungus to slip in through the cracks.
- Direct skin-to-skin contact with people grappling with fungal infections like athletes foot or ringworm on their hands can transmit the fungus onto you, paving the way for a toenail infection.
- A warm, moist environment such as a pool deck or a locker room provide the ideal breeding grounds for these infection-causing fungi. Therefore, people who walk barefoot in such areas tend to pick up this infection quite easily.
- Another common way of catching a fungal nail infection is by sharing an infected nail clipper or towel.
- Moreover, people who are prone to having moisture-ridden nails or often wear sweaty socks and shoes are increasingly predisposed to getting a fungal nail infection all by themselves.
What Is Black Nail Fungus
Most of the time black nails arent actually caused by any type of fungus. Black nails are usually a result of blood beneath the nail due to some sort of trauma, such as hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer or dropping something heavy on your toe. Much less commonly, black spots under the nails can be a sign of melanoma or skin cancer, so if your nails look black and you dont recall injuring yourself in any way, you should see a doctor or dermatologist be safe.
Most of the time, nail fungus actually makes nails look yellow, tan, or brown in color, rather than black. It also causes nails to grow thicker than normal. Sometimes nails appear warped as well as discolored. They may also crumble at the edges.
The condition can cause pain when it affects the toenails, it can make walking extremely painful and difficult. While nail fungus can often be treated with over-the-counter remedies, if youre experiencing a lot of pain, we recommend you see a physician.
Also Check: Is Vinegar Good For Foot Fungus