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What Can Cause Toenail Fungus

Doctors Weigh Best Treatments

What is toenail fungus?

The best treatment for fungal nail infections is a prescription that your dermatologist can prescribe that you take every day for two-to-three months. The pill is not for everyone, since oral antifungals can interact with other medications and can affect the liver.

Fortunately if you dont want to or cant take a pill, there are topical solutions to treat nail fungus. Although topical medications are desirable because of the low risk of side effects and interaction with other medications, they have much longer treatment regimens. Generally, topical medications have a lower clearance rate compared to oral pills.

Newer topical antifungals including Efinaconazole and Tavaborole have better penetration of the nail plate and so they work better compared to older topical medications, says Dr. Ng. She says the topical medications work best if you only have partial nail involvement.

Lasers are approved by the FDA to temporarily increase the amount of clear nail. However, the cure rates are lower than oral medications and topical solutions.

How Is Nail Fungus Treated

Treatment for a nail fungus may include topical creams, gels, nail lacquers, or oral medications . Rarely, surgery may be required. Although seldom done, removal of the infected nail can be performed to permit direct application of a topical antifungal. Oral drugs, such as terbinafine, can cure about one third of nail fungus infections.

Toenail infections are more difficult to treat than fingernail infections because the toenail grows more slowly. In addition, a damp, warm environment of a shoe or boot can encourage fungal growth.

What Is The Outlook For A Black Toenail

With black toenail, your outlook largely depends on the root cause of the symptom. Cases related to trauma and fungal infection have the best outlook. In these instances, injured nails grow out, and fungal infections may be treated at home.

Black toenail caused by melanoma and other health conditions are symptomatic. The outlook for such cases depends on how early you treat the underlying cause.

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What Is The Cause

Fungus or fungi is contagious in nature and can spread from one person to another or from one toenail to another. The most common type of fungi to infect the nails is dermatophytes. The nails are more susceptible to becoming infected if they are injured or if a persons immune system is not working optimally. Diabetes, for example, can have a negative impact on the immune system. Onychomycosis can occur in all people of all ages but tends to be more common in older adults. A toenail fungus shows itself in the nail plate or the toenail, but the infection is actually living in the nail bed underneath the nail. The nail bed contains a nail matrix or cells from which the nail plate grows.

What Are The Treatments For Black Toenail

Toenail problems and easy ways to treat them

Fungal infections of the toes are relatively treatable at home when caught early. Over-the-counter ointments, creams, and polishes are usually effective. Severe cases may require a prescription antifungal treatment.

If a black toenail is caused by an injury, the resulting spot from broken blood vessels will disappear once your nail grows out.

Black toenail caused by trauma from an injury usually resolves on its own without treatment. However, if your toenail grows out and it still appears black, then the symptoms might be related to another underlying cause.

Toenail discoloration related to diabetes and other health conditions requires treatment for the underlying causes.

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What Are The Symptoms

Symptoms often develop slowly over time. A nail with a fungal infection may:

  • Turn yellow, white, or brown.
  • Get thicker.
  • Crumble or split and may separate from the skin.

A fungal nail infection usually isn’t painful. But over time, you may be uncomfortable or even have pain when you wear shoes, walk, or stand for a long time. The fungus could also spread to other nails or your skin.

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.

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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.

From One Toenail To Another And Feet

How Did I Get Toenail Fungus? -Indianapolis Podiatrist Discusses Fungus Infection of Toenails

This is one of the most common ways for toenail fungus to spread, Athletes foot also called tinea pedis, its a very contagious infection that affects millions of people worldwide. Athletes foot isnt that serious, but it can be difficult to cure. It causes itching, blisters, stinging, discolored thick toenails and burning between the toes.

You can catch athletes foot through direct contact with a person who is already infected or touching surface thats already contaminated by the fungus.

The most common way of treating this infection is with over the counter topical antifungal medication. We recommend using Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System because it features a foot soak which is very effective for these types of infection.

There are several ways you can prevent yourself from getting athletes foot infection. These includes:

  • Put antifungal powder on your feet every day
  • Dont share shoes or socks
  • Wash your feet with water and soap and dry them completely
  • Wear shoes made of breathable
  • Going barefoot as often as possible
  • Regularly wash floor where you walk in bare feet

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How To Treat It

Mild fungal infections usually respond well to over-the-counter antifungal treatments, which you can find on . Look for something that contains either clotrimazole or terbinafine. You can also try these 10 home remedies.

If you have a severe fungal infection thats painful or causes your nail to thicken or crumble, its best to see a professional. Left untreated, several fungal infections can cause permanent nail damage.

You should also see a healthcare provider if you have diabetes and a fungal infection in your toenail.

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.

References

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What You Didnt Know About Supplements And Toenail Fungus

July 18, 2017 by Melissa Bell

Toenail fungus can be a persistent and distressing problem. Usually developed by fungi known as dermatophytes, this condition can become painful when not treated immediately. It causes the affected nail to become thick, crusty, distorted, and discolored. In severe cases, the nail may detach from the nail bed. If you have yellow discolored nails, chances are you develop a toenail fungus. Consider a selection of supplements to prevent the infection from aggravating.

About Fungal Nail Infection

An Overview of Common Toenail Problems

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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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.

Black Under Toenail Symptoms:

The most common symptom of black toenail fungus is that initially, toenail fungus develops.

  • After toenail fungus develops, a thicker toenail usually takes up more room in the sock and shoe.
  • As this happens, the toenail can catch on her shoes or socks and start to rip away from the skin.
  • This gradually forms debris and dirt that forms under the tip of the nail. This then forms a callus in the nail that starts to rub the way more and more.
  • Eventually, the toenail starts to turn black when small little blood vessels called capillaries are ripped away from the toenail.
  • This creates bleeding between the toenail and the skin.
  • As this blood starts to dry, it quickly turns black and forms a scab between the toenail and the skin.
  • As this gets thicker, it forms thick black toenail fungus.
  • The toenail eventually can turn completely back as it dies.

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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

Fungus Into The Bloodstream

How to Treat Toenail Fungus CORRECTLY | Easy Steps (2021)

This only happens in a serious stage of toenail fungus, people with very weak immune system and people with HIV/AIDS and Diabetes are known to face this danger. When the fungus enters the deeper skin, causing cellulitis thats when the disesase will enter the bloodstream. If you believe you are experiencing a fungal blood infect, i highly suggest you contact your doctor immediately.

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Types Of Fungal Nail Infections

There are four main kinds of fungal nail infection. Each looks slightly different:

  • Distal or lateral subungual onychomycosis. This is the most common kind. It results from a fungus called a dermatophyte. You can get it in your fingernails or toenails. It starts in the nail bed, underneath the nail. Youâll see a yellowish colored area that spreads from the edges of the nail to the center, and places where it comes apart from the nail bed.
  • White superficial onychomycosis. This is less common and only affects the nail surface, mainly on your toenails. It starts as white spots, which become powdery and cause the nail to crumble.
  • Proximal subungual onychomycosis. This appears first as white spots in the center of the nail bed at the cuticle. They move outward as the finger or toenail grows. Itâs rare and usually affects people who have immune system problems, like HIV infection.
  • Candidal onychomycosis. Yeast causes this infection that usually affects your fingernails. The area around the nails is often swollen and inflamed, and the nails may come off entirely. It tends to happen to nails that have been damaged by an injury or another infection.

How Is A Fungal Nail Infection Treated

It may take time to treat a nail infection. You may need to try several treatments to find one that helps. Even when a treatment works, the nail can get infected again.

Treatment often starts with antifungal medicine.

  • You can try an over-the-counter medicine that comes in a cream, lotion, or nail polish.
  • Your doctor can also prescribe a stronger antifungal medicine that you apply to your nail.
  • Antifungal pills give the best chance of curing a severe nail infection. But they may cost a lot. And they can have serious side effects. You will need to see your doctor for regular testing if you take these pills.
  • If you have a severe nail infection or the infection keeps coming back, your doctor may remove the infected nail.

If you have diabetes or a weak immune system, your doctor may suggest treating the infection, even if it doesn’t bother you.

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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.

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

Toenail Fungus Treatment

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.

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Are You At Risk For A Nail Infection

As mentioned earlier, fungus can enter cracks on your nails. In other words, having dry or cracked nails can put you at risk of developing an infection. Here are seven more risk factors that increase your risk of developing nail fungus:

  • Sweating heavily
  • Having a history of athletes foot
  • Being older, especially if you have reduced blood flow to your feet, dry nails, or slow-growing nails
  • Walking barefoot in public shower areas
  • Having a minor nail injury
  • Having diabetes
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • If you are in any of the at-risk categories, you can take a few steps to reduce your chances of developing onychomycosis. Keeping your feet clean and dry is the best prevention against any fungal infection. In addition, change out of sweaty socks immediately , wear shower shoes if using public showers, and inspect your feet daily for any signs of infection or injury.

    Whos At Risk For Fungal Infections

    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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