How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Nail Fungus
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.
When To See A Doctor About Toenail Fungus
If you are experiencing persistent toenail fungus or pain is present, you may need to see a specialist. A dermatologist or podiatrist may be able to assess your symptoms and send a small sample of the affected toenail or flesh to a laboratory to be analyzed as there are various types of fungi and yeasts that cause onychomycosis. Knowing the specific cause of your foot fungus can help identify what route to take to treat your condition.
Nail changes can also be caused by underlying conditions, like psoriasis and diabetes, so its important to seek professional medical advice if your condition persists or worsens. Bacterial and fungal infection of skin in diabetes patients often result in hospital admissions, and in severe cases, can result in amputations. If you are at a higher risk for infection, you should skip home remedies and seek professional medical treatment.
Staying One Step Ahead Of Toenail Fungus
An established fungal infection is hard to eradicate, but you can stop its spread and improve your toenail’s appearance.
Toenail fungus isn’t a pressing health problem. Yet a fungal infection can ruin the appearance of your nails and cause pain as it lifts the nail away from the nail bed. And fungal infections are notoriously difficult to get rid of. “You may want to consider fungal toenail a condition to be managed rather than cured,” says Dr. James P. Ioli, chief of the podiatry service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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Why Do Toenail Fungus Infections Happen
Dermatophytes, belonging to the mold group of fungi, are the most common culprits for toenail fungal infections.
An infection can happen because of small tears in the skin or the toenail which causes a vulnerability where these fungi can enter andset up shop, so to speak. Nail fungus infections can affect the fingernails but itâs most commonly seen in toenails. This is likely because of the warm, and moist conditions of closed-toed shoes. â
Yes. Toenail fungus is both very contagious, and hard to treat.
The fungus responsible for toenail fungus infections is easily spread through direct or indirect contact.
Studies have shown that toenail fungus and athleteâs foot can spread among family members in close proximity.
Because itâs so contagious, toenail fungus infections are also very common. Experts estimate that 1 in 10 people have toenail fungus.
Treatment Of Nail Fungal Infection At Different Stages
Treatment of onychomycosis at the first stage is crucial as the infection hasnt exacerbated yet and therefore is easier to heal. Topical treatments, such as anti-fungal creams and gels or medicated nail polish are the most commonly used at this stage. However, it is ideal to use a topically-applied medication that not only can kill the fungus, but can penetrate the nail as well.
Most topical treatments dont work because they cant penetrate the nail to get to the fungi. It is therefore recommended for sufferers to use a topical medication that can penetrate the nail and kill the fungus. A solution with 10% undecylenic acid, which can effectively get rid of the infection, and a penetrating agent , is recommended.
For moderate nail fungus infection, such topical solutions can still work. However, many sufferers use that in conjunction with oral medicines. Many anti-fungal pills in the market can treat fungal nail infection, though it is still suggested to use such medicines along with topical solutions .
Unfortunately, oral medicines are also more likely to cause side effects to patients. They are also not recommended for the elderly, pregnant women, and those who have other medical conditions or ailments.
But again, fungi can come back, even without the nail itself. This is why its recommended for patients to use topical anti-fungal ointment to the nail bed and surrounding skin while waiting for the nail to grow back. Otherwise, the fungi will just return.
How Fungi Infect The Nail
Onchomycosis, or toenail fungal infection, is an invasion by a microscopic organism that thrives in warm, damp environments. Fungal spores are in the air, and they will grow if they land on a receptive surface like your toenail. They feed off the nail tissues, burrowing into the skin under the nail. Over time the nail thickens and may lift off the nail bed as fungal debris accumulates. Once your nail is raised off the nail bed, it won’t reattach, and a new nail won’t grow from that part of the nail bed. However, your nail will continue to grow from the root at the base.
Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms
Symptoms are different depending on which type of fungal nail infection you have. They usually start mild and get more serious.
- At first, you may only see a white or yellow spot under your nail. Over time, this spreads and can turn your whole nail white, yellow, green, or black.
- The nail may thicken and could be hard to trim.
- It may start to curl up or down or loosen from the nail bed.
- Your nail could become brittle and crumble when you touch it.
- Your nail may become misshapen.
- You may notice a bad smell.
Itâs easy to ignore fungal nail infections at first, since you may not have any pain. But if you donât treat them, it can hurt to put any pressure on the area. If an infection gets bad enough, it could even become hard to walk.
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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.
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.
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Do I Have Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is not a joke. If youve never had it before, you may not understand how nasty it is. First off, its totally embarrassing. If you care about the appearance of your feet, toenail fungus can make you very self-conscious. For instance, if youre going to the beach, you might feel insecure walking around in slippers. The same goes for when you are in a public swimming pool.
Even worse, toenail fungus can cause severe damage to your nailbed if early treatment is not sought. If left untreated, the infection becomes worse. And it wont go away on its own. In fact, it will spread to other toes, and all your toenails will become thicker, crumbly and deformed. So, its recommended that you seek treatment as early as possible.
What Causes A Nail Infection
Paronychias are most often caused by common skin bacteria entering the skin around the nail that has been damaged by trauma, such as nail biting, finger sucking, dishwashing, or chemical irritants. Fungal infection also can be a cause of chronic paronychia and is considered particularly in people with the recurrent infection. Paronychia can be confused with herpetic whitlow, which can form tiny pustules on the finger and is caused by a virus, but is not typically located at the nail edge. Herpetic whitlow is not treated with an incision and drainage as can be a paronychia.
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Crystal Flush & The Reviews
Crystal Flush is a game-changer and my #1 recommendationfor getting rid of your fungus fast.”
“If youve been dealing with toe fungus you know how difficult and frustrating it is to treat. Drugstore brands and prescription drugs can take several months and get dismal results, and some even come with some very unpleasant side effects.
Crystal Flush is a multi-step regimen consisting of both natural and science-backed ingredients. It targets the COMPLETE root causes of fungus both the internal and external factors. But the key is to start treatment today before it spreads and gets much, much worse.
Ive read the science and witnessed the impressive success stories. Crystal Flush is safe, effective, and Im confident youll love the results.
Dr. Mandira Mehra, M.D.
Treating Fungal Nail Infection
Treatment may not be necessary in mild cases of fungal nail infection. For more severe or troublesome cases, antifungal medication may be recommended.
A fungal nail infection is unlikely to get better without treatment, but if youre not bothered by it you might decide its not worth treating because treatment can take a long time, may cause side effects, and isnt always effective.
Whether or not you decide to have treatment, you should still follow the self-help advice below to help stop the condition getting worse or spreading to others.
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Nail Fungus And Nail Psoriasis 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
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.
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How To Treat A Damaged Nail Bed
The main aim of treating a damaged nail bed is to restore the injured nail to its previous condition. If there is a pool of blood under the nail, it is drained through a small hole in the nail. This helps relieve pressure and reduce pain. If theres severe injury, surgery may be required.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only. All suggestions on this site should be discussed with your doctor or podiatrist and should not be used as visitors sole source of information.
Other Causes Of Fungal Nail Infection
Nail fungus can also be caused by fungus already present in or on your body like athletes foot, jock itch, or ringworm all common forms of fungal infections that people can get.
There are some ways that you can get nail fungus that arent quite as likely but still possible: if you get your nails done at a salon and there isnt a rigorous disinfecting procedure with the tools, you could get it from a shared set of clippers or a common emery board.
Repetitive trauma or breakage of the nail will also cause the nail to become weaker, potentially allowing the fungus a location to congregate and spread from. So bear cleanliness and hygiene in mind when choosing your salons. A super cheap manicure could cost you in other ways!
Its also important to know that nail fungus is contagious between nails, but it is very rare to get nail fungus directly from other people. That may not set too many of your friends at ease if theyre looking askance at your discoloured nail, but hey, at least you know.
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What Does Toenail Fungus Look Like
Toenail fungus exhibits a variety of symptoms that may help you identify it. Some of these symptoms include:
- Thicker toenails. If you have toenail fungus, your toenails will be slightly thicker than usual
- Yellowing of toenails. Instead of the usual pink color of your nails, toenail fungus will make your nails turn whitish, yellowish or light brownish
- Deformed and crumbly toenails. Instead of your toenails being smooth and pliable, the fungus will make them ragged, crumbly and brittle
- Disfigured toenails. Your toenails may curve slightly to either the right side or the left side, especially after they begin to crumble
- Foul smelling toenails. You may also notice that your toenails emit an unusual foul smell
Types Of Toenail Fungal Infections
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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Treating The Fungus With Prescription Drugs