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What Causes Nail Fungus On Toenails

The Impact Of Toenail Fungus Infection On Emotional Health

Toenail Fungus, What Causes This? Dr. Richard Jacoby

As we have seen, Type 2 diabetes care demands attention to medical needs and foot hygiene, especially when a foot infection or toenail fungus develops. But these infections also impact ones self-esteem, social life, and even relationships and productivity in the workplace. Symptoms of nail decay, the possibility of spreading infection to colleagues or family members, and a perceived lack of cleanliness are powerful sources of embarrassment and shame. Left untreated, fungal infections and bacterial infections are both physically and emotionally damaging.

Why Does Fungus Cause Thick Toenails

Toenails are very painful if they are not treated properly. When someone has toenail fungus. The toenail starts to change from a normal nail to a very discolored and thickened nail. Everyone that gets toenail fungus does not have the same symptoms. Some people have a different type of change of color in the nail. When someone has toenail fungus the types of color change they can get is yellow, brown or yellow. This can also create a foul order in the nails which can be unbearable. When the nails are thick, it can allow the nail to be lifted from the nailbed which allows it to detach.

Almost 20% of the population has toenail fungus and there are many reasons why the nail becomes harder and thicker. Once the fungus gets developed into your nail, the fungus gets inside your nail bed and spreads. When the fungus spreads, thats what creates the nail to become thick because its what allows the nail to detach. There are many risks that can happen if the nail becomes thick. When applying pressure to the thickened nail can cause a lot of discomfort and pain.

If you have toenail fungus, consult with one of our podiatrists to discuss the treatment. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We have over 120 clinics nationwide, including San France, CA.

How Does Copper Toxicity Happen

Copper toxicity is very common today, here are some reasons why:

Adrenal exhaustion. The most important cause of copper toxicity is weak adrenal gland activity or adrenal exhaustion. The adrenal glands stimulate the production of ceruloplasmin in the liver. Ceruloplasmin is a protein that binds to copper, and makes it bio-available by transporting it around the body to be used for biological processes. When a person has adrenal exhaustion or weak adrenal activity, they are not able to make enough ceruloplasmin and so copper remains in a toxic/bio-unavailable form within the cells that can not be used by the body. Improving adrenal gland function is one way to resolve this issue.

Zinc deficiency. Today most people are deficient in zinc. The reason for this is that the soil is depleted of zinc and therefore so is our food. Refined sugar, white rice and white flour have been stripped of their zinc content. A deficiency of zinc causes the build up of copper in the tissues as copper is used instead of zinc for enzyme reactions. Zinc is needed for the proper immune response. A proper immune response is required to fight off candida and keep it under control.

The vegetarian diet is very high in copper. Nuts, beans, seeds and grains are very high in copper. Meat contains copper, but the ratio of copper to zinc is more balanced. Zinc competes for the absorption of copper in the gut, so this will prevent so much copper from being absorbed into the body.

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Is Toenail Fungus Treatable

Yes, Toenail Fungal Infections are highly treatable. However, they may return with time if the infection is not treated well.

There are many over-the-counter gels or topical creams that may treat swelling and soreness however, they dont cure the condition. It is important you detect the early signs of toenail fungus: discoloured toenail, pain or swelling in the nailbed.

Your doctor may prescribe some anti-fungal oral and topical medicines that can treat the infection. If the nail isnt healing, the toenail may be removed as well.

When Should You See Your Doctor

The Ultimate Guide to Treating Black Toenail Fungus

A black toenail doesnt necessarily require a doctors visit the need for medical treatment depends on the initial cause. Knowing the cause can help you make this decision. On the flipside, if you dont know the cause, its a good idea to see your doctor just in case your black toenail is a sign of a serious medical condition.

Not all cases of toenail fungus require a doctors visit. However, if you also have diabetes, you should see your doctor for treatment.

A dermatologist can also help diagnose and treat black toenail. Youll need to see a dermatologist if you suspect melanoma. However, if your black toenail is caused by another underlying health issue, such as diabetes, then youll also need to see your primary doctor to treat the cause.

Any black toenail that doesnt go away should be looked at by a doctor. If youre concerned about your black toenail and dont already have a dermatologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

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Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms

Often the infection is just in one nail but several may be affected. It is usually painless. The nail may look thickened and discoloured . Commonly, this is all that occurs and it often causes no other symptoms. The main reason people see their doctor is because the appearance is unsightly.

Sometimes the infection becomes worse. White or yellow patches may appear where the nail has come away from the skin under the nail . Sometimes the whole nail comes away. The nail may become soft and crumble. Bits of nail may fall off. The skin next to the nail may be inflamed or scaly. If left untreated, the infection may eventually destroy the nail and the nail bed, and may become painful. Walking may become uncomfortable if a toenail is affected.

This photo shows the typical appearance of fungal infection of the toenails:

This photo shows fingernail fungal infection, which is less common than toenail fungal infection:

How Is Toenail Fungus Treated

Toenail fungus is notoriously tricky to treat. You may need to treat the condition for several months to get rid of the fungus. Still, toenail fungus often comes back.

A dermatologist or podiatrist can explain your treatment options. If you have a mild case that doesnt bother you, your provider may recommend no treatment.

Toenail fungus treatment options include:

  • Oral antifungal medication: You take prescribed medication, such terbinafine , itraconazole and fluconazole , to treat the fungi. You will need to take this medication every day for several months . Your provider may use blood tests to check for potential medication side effects. These medications can affect the liver and interact with other medications, so oral antifungals are not for everyone.
  • Topical medication: You regularly apply a medication right on the nail. The medication treats the fungi over time. Topical medications are most effective when paired with oral medications.
  • Laser treatments: Your provider directs a high-tech laser beam and special lights at the toenail to treat the fungus. Lasers are FDA approved for temporary increase of clear nail in nail fungus but is not a cure. Cure rates for laser treatment are lower than oral and topical mediations so they are not typically used as first line treatments for nail fungus.
  • Surgery:

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A Family History Of Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungal infection can be affected by heredity and some families are more prone to it than others. In these cases, toenail fungus is sometimes seen at an earlier age, says Cary Zinkin, DPM, a podiatrist in Deerfield Beach, Florida, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, toenail fungus is most common in men over age 60. If you have a family history of toenail fungal infections, take time to inspect your feet daily and see a doctor promptly if you suspect toenail fungus.

Also Check: How Do You Cure Toe Fungus

How Is Toenail Fungus Diagnosed


Nearly 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with toenail fungus each year. Men are up to three times more likely to develop toenail fungus than women. You are also at a higher risk for a toenail fungus infection if you smoke or have diabetes. Also, individuals with compromised immune systems may experience toenail fungus that can turn into an infection.

When feet remain moist or damp, the fungus can grow, causing discoloration and thickening of toenails. Infection can cause discomfort and pain. The spread of fungus and infection can go from toe to toe, hand, fingernails, or skin on other parts of the body.

The toenail may become warped, cracked, or loosen itself away from the nail bed. Often the nail appears yellowish and may have white spots. Your doctor will examine your feet and potentially take a small sample of skin or nail to be sent off to a laboratory for testing. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist, podiatrist, or other healthcare professional if your condition is unusual or needs special care. Other foot conditions such as psoriasis can look similar to a fungal infection. Lab reports can indicate if the problem is fungal, helping the doctor prescribe the best medication for effective treatment.

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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

What Causes A Nail Fungal Infection

The infection is usually caused by exposure to a fungus. The fungus grows in wet, dark conditions. The fungus grows when your feet are in warm, sweaty environment . It enters your nail through a crack in the nail.

Nail fungal infections happen at any age. They are more common in adults older than 60 years of age. They are common in people who have diabetes or circulation problems. They also are common in people with a weakened immune system. Men are more likely than women to get fungal nail infections.

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Toenail Fungus Treatment And Cure

Various procedures and cures may be used to treat toenail fungus. Usually, the choice of the treatment depends on various factors, including severity and nature of the infection and whether previous treatments have failed to cure it.

The usual initial treatment may involve the use of over the counter or prescription toenail fungal medications. Another way of getting rid of a fungus toenail entails softening and scraping it.

However, severe cases of toenail fungus may require other medical interventions and cures such as laser therapy or complete removal the toenail. These procedures may also be used when other methods have failed to heal a fungal toenail infection.

Your doctor will always advise you on the best toenail fungus cure for you because there is no general best toenail fungus treatment. Rather, the appropriate treatment is done on the case by case basis.

1. Use of Toenail Fungus Medication

The common toenail fungus medications include both antifungal oral tablets and topical paint applications.

a) Antifungal Tablets

Antifungal tablets are taken orally once or twice per day for several months. Failure to complete your dosage may cause the infection to recur. The most common and best toenail fungus medications include:

The antifungal medications for toenail infection may cause some side effects, the common ones being headache, itching and diarrhea, rashes on body and loss sense of taste.

b) Antifungal Nail Paint or Polish

2. Softening and Scraping Away the Toenail

Specific Risk Factors For Diabetics

Is this toenail fungus? Find out here.  Eltham Foot Clinic

Because nail fungus may recur even after successful treatment, daily foot care is a habit worth cultivating, especially if you are a diabetic patient, have a weakened immune system, or have poor circulation. Older people are at risk for developing nail fungal infections simply because they may have more years of exposure to fungi and have slower growing toenails. Other factors may exacerbate risk of infection, including heavy foot sweating, blisters, foot ulcers, and walking barefoot around swimming pools or public shower rooms.

Pay attention to diabetic health care risk factors like reduced blood flow and circulation to your feet, which may encourage fungal infection. Untreated, toenail onychomycosis can become painful and even cause permanent damage to your nails. Because youre already at risk for cellulitis , even a minor injury to your feet, including fungal nail infections, can lead to serious complications and, in severe cases, even nerve damage. Good foot care is a vital part of good health care for every diabetic.

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An Ounce Of Prevention

If your feet arent healthy its going to be more difficult for you to maintain overall good health. Foot problems may arise at any time, but if youre attentive to good foot care and hygiene youll catch any sign of toenail fungus infection right away. Its important to find and treat a stubborn nail fungus in its early stages. Your first step should always be to see your doctor, podiatrist, or dermatologist as soon as you notice nail discoloration, brittleness, change in toenail shape, or a slightly foul odor.

Daily nail care begins with hand and foot washing, drying, and moisturizing and be strict about washing your hands after touching any infected nail. Trim nails straight across, file edges and any thickened areas, and disinfect nail clippers after each use. Ingrown toenails may require the attention of a podiatrist. If you rely upon a manicurist or pedicurist, choose a salon that sterilizes their tools for each customer.

Wear sweat-absorbing socks and consider changing your socks several times throughout the day. Always wear protective footwear in pool areas, locker rooms, gyms, and showers. Be sure to discard old shoes, especially if youve worn them with infected feet. For daily shoe wear, disinfect every pair with antifungal powder or spray. Do your shoes breathe? If not, find shoes made from materials that do.

Signs And Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus

  • Discolored toenails: Toenail fungus can lead to discoloration of your toenails. Usually, the toenail turns white , black , yellow , or green .Sometimes, it may cause flaky spots with a mixture of these colors.
  • Thickened toenails: The toenails become thick and hard. The thickness and hardness of the toenails usually make them difficult to trim.
  • Distorted toenails: Fungus toenails develop unusual shape. They may become detached from the nail bed or appear to be growing in a sideway direction.
  • Rugged Toenails: It is common for toenails infected with fungus to develop an uneven or a rough texture on their surface.
  • Crumbly Toenails: Fungus toenails usually become soft and fragile or brittle. As a result, the nail may corrode or crack, or pieces may break off, making it have irregular or cracked edges.
  • Foul smell: Although rarely, fungal infection on toenails may cause a slightly foul odor, especially when the infection becomes serious and affect the surrounding skin.
  • Dark Color under toenails: The debris from the infected toenail may build up beneath the toenail, causing the appearance of dark color under the nails.
  • Pain and discomfort: Toenail fungus often cause pain or discomfort, especially when you or your shoes apply pressure on the toenails.
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    Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus

    Generally, natural treatments or home remedies are more effective than prescription medications when used to treat mild-to-moderate toenail fungus. Although they typically do not cause many side effects, they usually take longer to eliminate toenail fungus as compared to medical treatments and prescriptions.

    However, natural home remedies should not be used if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes or weakened immune system. Instead, seek medical attention to address the underlying health problems as well as the toenail fungus.

  • Vicks VapoRub: Studies show that this antifungal topical ointment has positive results when used to treat toenail fungus. Apply a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to the affected toenail once or twice a day after washing and drying it.
  • Snakeroot extract: This is an antifungal made from plants that belong to the sunflower family. It is usually applied about once per day at the beginning of the treatment. The frequency of application may be reduced to twice per week in the second week and once per week in the third month.
  • Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil contains has both antifungal properties and hence can be effectively used to treat fungal toenail infection. To use it, paint it onto the affected toenail directly twice daily using a cotton swab tea tree oil is an effective home remedy for toenail fungus
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    How Did I Get Toenail Fungus? -Indianapolis Podiatrist Discusses Fungus Infection of Toenails

    Bacterial and viral infections seem to make the daily news, but ever wonder why fungal infections and the consequences of their treatment rarely make headlines?

    Fungal infections can be bothersome, but they are generally low acuity and not life-threatening in people with healthy immune systems, says Rupali Jain, PharmD,, a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle.

    Even though superficial fungal infections, affecting the outer layer of skin and other bodily surfaces, are rarely serious, they can look ugly , can be irritating , and are relatively common, accounting for 25% of all fungal skin infections. In addition to toenail and vaginal yeast infection , common infections include ringworm, athletes foot, scalp infection and jock itch.

    They are typically treated with the same family of antifungals. You can often treat less-persistent and less-serious infections with over-the-counter antifungal creams, powders and gels. The Food and Drug Administration generally believes these treatments are effective, they have few side effects and can be used safely without a doctors supervision.

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