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How To Tell If You Have Nail Fungus

How Do I Know If I Have Toenail Fungus

How do you know if you have a fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail infections are often caused by many different microorganisms called fungi that live in the environment. These microorganisms dont typically cause a problem until we injure and break down the perfect barrier to the outside world: our skin and nails. When this happens, the small cracks in your nail or the surrounding skin can allow these fungi to enter and cause an infection.

As we mentioned, this is a common infection that goes by the name of onychomycosis. It can cause your nail to become painful, discolored yellow or brown, thick, and more likely to crack and break. They also seem irregular in appearance compared to your other nails.

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 Similarities

Both can occur in the fingers and toes. Both nail psoriasis and fungal infections can happen in the toenails and fingernails. Nail fungus is more likely to happen in the toenails, while nail psoriasis is more likely to affect the fingernails.1,2

Other similarities include:

  • Discoloration of the nail: Both psoriasis and fungal infections can cause discoloration of the nail. Patients with psoriasis often notice their nails change to a yellowish-brown color, while patients with fungal infections see yellow, brown and green colors.3,4
  • Nail lifting or falling off: Both conditions can have a symptom where their nails separate from the nail bed or even fall off.3,4 This is known as Onycholysis.
  • Nail thickening: Both conditions can cause the nails to thicken.1,2

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I Bite My Nails Sometimesdoes It Matter

Biting nails and the skin around them is a bad habit. People who bite their nails dont like to do it, but its hard to stop. Youre introducing bacteria from the nail into the mouth and creating an opening in the skin or under the nail that can introduce bacteria, fungus or yeast that can cause infection.

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This process may take up to a year for your nail to fully grow out the infected nail.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association says fingernails typically grow out in 4 – 6 months while toenails take can take 12 to 18 months.

However, the physical appearance might noticeably improve within a few months. Even if the physical appearance is better, donât stop treating the nail as reinfection is very possible.

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How Effective Are Tablets In Treating Nail Fungus

Tablets for the treatment of nail fungus have been tested in several studies. All participants had an infection on their toenails caused by a skin fungus. Overall, the study results showed that tablets are considerably more effective than nail polishes or creams.

One year after a three-month treatment with terbinafine:

  • About 17 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
  • About 76 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.

In other words, the treatment with terbinafine got rid of the fungal infection in about 59 out of 100 people.

Itraconazole also proved to be effective. After one year,

  • 7 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
  • About 43 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.

In other words, the treatment with itraconazole got rid of the fungal infection in about 36 out of 100 people.

Some studies directly compared itraconazole and terbinafine with each other. They confirm that terbinafine is somewhat more effective than itraconazole.

Treatment with breaks is thought to be about as effective as continuous treatment. But that has only been looked into in a few studies.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Nail Fungus

You may have a nail fungal infection if you notice one or more of the following symptoms plaguing your nail:

  • Appear thickened
  • Appear distorted in shape and color
  • Have lost all shine and appear very dull
  • Show a dark color on the underside

In more severe cases onycholysis may occur, which is the physical separation of the infected nail from the actual nail bed.

Diagnosing Fungus Infections

Visiting a doctor is the best way to diagnose and treat a nail fungal infection. A doctor will conduct a physical examination of your nails. He or she may also take a sample of nail debris to send over to a lab for testing in order to identify the type of fungus responsible for the infection.

There are other conditions that appear to be fungal infections but are actually caused by something else. Psoriasis is one possibility that looks like a fungal infection, as well as microorganisms including yeast and bacteria. In order to receive effective treatment its important to know what is causing the infection in the first place.

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What Are The Most Effective Treatments For Toenail Fungus

The experts at Easton Dermatology Associates offer treatment customized to your exact situation, whether youve just noticed an irregularity with your toenail or youve been battling fungus for a while. Treatment options include:

  • Prescription oral antifungal medications
  • Topical nail cream
  • Special antifungal nail polish that allows your nails to breathe

No matter what treatment you adopt, patience is key. It can take several months to clear up toenail fungus because even nails that grow at an average rate dont grow rapidly. We treat your fungus until its a thing of the past, and we also advise you on how to prevent a recurrence.

Its much easier to solve the problem when youre in the early stages of infection, before it becomes too advanced.

Do at either of our locations in Easton or Salisbury, Maryland, so we can start helping you eliminate embarrassing and persistent nail fungus problems ASAP. When next summer rolls around, you can be back in those oh-so-chic sandals!

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How To Catch Nail Fungus Early

How do I know if nail fungus is dead?

You likely have an image in your mind of what toenail fungus looks like. The symptoms are pretty classic:

  • A yellowish or brownish color
  • Thickening of the nails
  • Deformation
  • Crumbliness

But what if we told you that, by the time you see these signs, the fungus has already had plenty of time to set up shop and bury itself deep within your toenails?

It takes a lot of time for symptoms such as those above to appear. And lets be honest: even when the main symptoms start to appear, we tend to have a habit of overlooking it, or just hoping it goes away on its own at least until it becomes too significant of a problem to ignore.

We are not judging here. It is a very common and very human behavior.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the sooner a fungal infection is diagnosed and addressed, the faster and more effective treatments tend to be. And when it comes to toenail fungus, the early signs are definitely not as obvious as what they end up becoming.

Catching and treating a fungal infection at its earliest stages can save you plenty of time and trouble, so we highly recommend paying attention to your feet and periodically checking for these first symptoms..

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There Is A Wide Range Of Options With Varying Success Rates

Other than keeping your toenails trimmed and perhaps painted, you may not pay much attention to them unless a problem develops. Healthy toenails are pink, shiny and smooth, but a fungal infection can cause them to become discolored, thick, brittle and even painful.

Toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is a common but challenging condition toenail fungus treatments include a wide range of options with varying success rates.

Causes of toenail fungus

Fungal nail infections are usually caused by fungi called dermatophytes that infect the skin beneath the nail yeast is another common culprit. Toenails are especially vulnerable to infection when your bare feet contact damp surfaces such as showers, swimming pools and locker rooms. If you have athletes foot, the infection can spread to the nails.

Wearing closed shoes such as athletic shoes for extended periods also can contribute to infection if your shoes and/or socks are damp from perspiration or heat. Moreover, if your shoes fit snugly enough to put pressure on your toes, they can damage the nail bed, making it more susceptible to infection.

People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, also may be more prone to toenail infections.

Symptoms of toenail fungus

Toenail fungus symptoms can develop slowly over time and may go unnoticed at first. Symptoms can include:

Toenail fungus treatments

  • Tolnaftate
  • Terbinafine

When to see a doctor for toenail fungus

Preventing toenail fungus

When Are The Different Treatments Considered

Most doctors recommend treating nail fungus with nail polish or cream if

  • not much more than half of the nail is affected by the fungus,
  • the base of the nail is not infected, and
  • only some nails are affected.

Topical treatment is also usually recommended for children. One reason for this is that most oral medications arent suitable for children. Another reason is that children have thinner nails that grow more quickly, so its assumed that treatment with nail polish or creams is more likely to work in children than in adults. White superficial onychomycosis is also often treated with a nail polish or cream.

If several nails are infected by the fungus, or if the infection has spread out more on the affected nails, its usually necessary to take oral medication. And if the infection started at the base of the nail, its highly likely that only tablets will help.

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Treatments For Fungal Nail Infections

Treatment isnt always needed for a mild fungal nail infection because its unlikely to cause any further problems and you may feel its not worth treating.

Whether you decide to have treatment or not, you should still practise good foot hygiene to stop the infection getting worse or spreading to others.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if youre bothered by the appearance of the affected nail, or its causing problems such as pain and discomfort. Theyll probably recommend:

  • antifungal tablets tablets taken once or twice a day for several months
  • antifungal nail paints special paints applied directly to the nail over several months
  • nail softening kits where a paste is used to soften infected parts of the nail, before theyre removed with a scraping device

A procedure to remove the nail completely may be recommended in severe cases. Laser treatment, where a high-energy laser is used to destroy the fungus, is also an option. But this is only available privately and can be expensive.

You can reduce your risk of developing a fungal nail infection by:

Nail salon equipment can sometimes be the source of fungal nail infections. If you regularly visit a salon, make sure any equipment used is properly sterilised between uses.

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Types Of Toenail Fungal Infections

How to Tell if You Have a Toenail Fungus

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.

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Is Toenail Fungus Really Such A Problem

If youre thinking you can just live with it, we dont advise letting toenail fungus go untreated. Its an insidious problem, and without treatment, you have to deal with the discomfort of the nail as well as feeling self-conscious about its unsightliness.

If you let a nail fungus infection go for too long, several problems emerge. The infected nail can become misshapen and increasingly separated from your nail bed. Itching and pain are unpleasant side effects if theyre too severe, you can have trouble wearing shoes or walking.

You need to be especially attentive to treating toenail fungus if your immune system is compromised. If youre living with diabetes, its critical not to ignore the fungus. Even a mild infection like this can snowball into something more serious, like cellulitis, a severe bacterial skin infection.

Another problem is that untreated fungus eventually can spread to either neighboring toenails or to the skin of your foot, causing athletes foot. Possibly the worst outcome of untreated nail fungus is needing to have your nail surgically removed.

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Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Fungus

Hydrogen peroxide has long been applied to a wide variety of uses. From disinfecting minor cuts and scrapes and household cleaning to hair bleach and tooth whitening. Now it has become a popular nail fungus treatment alternative to prescription medication.

But does it work?

According to The CDC, hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.

Just remember: just because something has been proven to have antifungal properties, does not mean that it will automatically get rid of a toenail fungal infection.

The concentration and exposure level are also important.

This is where the data is lacking.

There is no clinical data to support the idea that hydrogen peroxide, or any other home remedy , has been proven to be an effective treatment against toenail fungus.

Although there is no clinical proof of its efficacy, there is lots of anecdotal evidence from people who have used hydrogen peroxide for toenail fungus and it worked for them.

Bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide may not work for everyone. But there really is no harm in trying to see if it works for you. Its inexpensive and there are no harmful side effects if used properly.

So why not give it a go?

About Fungal Nail Infection

How to tell a bruise under the toenail from toenail fungus

Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. It’s not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.

The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.

Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.

The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.

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How To Tell A Bruise Under The Toenail From Toenail Fungus

Today on the Doc on the Run Podcast, were going to talk about how you can tell a bruise under the toenail from toenail fungus.

Today on the Doc on the Run Podcast, were going to talk about how you can tell a bruise under the toenail from toenail fungus.

One common question is when somebody has discoloration in the nail, it looks kind of dark, looks kind of like a bruise, theyll ask me whether or not its actually a bruise or if its toenail fungus. Thats a great question, and there are a couple of ways you can figure that out. Some of them are pretty simple, some of them not so much.

But the first thing you have to think about is that if you suspect you have a bruise under the toenail, well did you do anything that would have caused a bruise? Did you drop a frozen Turkey on your foot? Did you go on a 30-mile run? Did you trip over something when you were running? Did somebody step on your foot?

If you didnt have any trauma to the toes, then its unlikely that you have a bruise under the nail. If its new and its not sore and it wasnt sore when it started, its probably not a bruise.

A bruise is just blood accumulating between the nail plate and the nail bed itself, and its usually tender. And of course its usually caused by trauma. That can be because you dropped something on it. It can be because you kicked something.


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