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What Is Toe Fungus Caused From

Causes Of Toenail Fungus

What is toenail fungus?

As the name suggests, toenail fungus is caused by fungi. There are various types of fungi that can cause toenail fungus. The most common type is called dermatophyte. Other common types of fungi include yeast and molds. The risk factors of toenail fungus are discussed in a later section of this post.

Usually, fungal toenail infection starts from a fungal foot infection called athletes foot. In such cases, toenail fungus develops when the fungi causing athletes foot spreads to and attacks toenails.

However, you can also contract toenail fungus without necessarily having suffered from athletes foot. Normally fungi exist harmlessly on the skin, but under certain conditions, they can multiply and lead to infections. The fungi thrive warm, dark and regularly moist places like the feet.

Toenail fungus can spread from one infected toenail to other healthy ones. This especially happens when your feet are subjected to the conditions that encourage growth and development of the fungi that already exists on your other toes.

You can also get toenail fungus from other people who have fungal infections, whether or not they affect their toenails. Toenail fungus is contagious and hence can spread from one individual to another through direct contact or by sharing items like clothes , shoes or towels. Sometimes, this happens when your feet come into contact with fungi on the ground, especially if you walk barefoot.

When Does Toenail Fungus Need Medical Intervention

Fungus infections spread easily, and they typically require some type of treatment to eliminate for good. We know that its not always easy to talk about a fungal infection, but rest assured, these infections are very common. Dr. Kaplan encourages you to seek podiatric care if your at-home care hasnt improved the state of your nails or if your nail becomes increasingly thickened, brittle, discolored, or misshapen.

If you have diabetes, skip the at-home care and seek podiatric care. Having diabetes can increase your risk of complications from any foot-related condition, including infections, sores, or blisters.

Keep Nails Trimmed And Straight

Keeping your toenails trimmed short and straight prevents sharp edges that might knick your nail bed or become ingrown, which makes you more susceptible to fungal infections. Be sure to disinfect your nail clippers after each use since the fungus spreads easily. If you get pedicures, be sure the nail salon disinfects their tools and tubs between customers.

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Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus

You may feel tempted to cover up a discolored toenail with nail polish. If you are using a topical antifungal, you probably should not use polish. Some providers may tell you not to wear it in any case. Polish traps in moisture from the nailbed . Because fungi thrive in moist environments, wearing nail polish may make a fungal infection worse. However, the nail continues to grow with or without polish.

Black Toenail From Trauma

Risks Of Diabetic Black Toenail Discoloration

Trauma is the most common cause of a black toenail. The trauma can be abrupt or accrued over time.

Sometimes a sudden blow, like dropping a heavy object on your toe, or having your foot stomped on during a soccer game, will burst blood vessels in the nail bed and bruise the adjacent flesh.

The attrition of repetitive trauma, like constantly jamming your big toe against the end of your too-short running shoe during a half marathon, can likewise break blood vessels under a toenail.

Recommended Reading: How Did I Get Fingernail Fungus

What Causes Toe Nail Fungus

Toenail fungus, also known as Onychomycosis, is often caused by organisms know as dermatophytes. These fungus organisms also cause athletes foot. Rarely, yeasts and molds can also infect the nails causing nail fungus. Toenail fungus infections are more common than fingernail infections because our feet are often in a dark, moist environment most of the day. So, how and why do we get nail fungus infections?

Walking Barefoot: Particularly in public places that may stay damp for long periods like pools, locker rooms and workout facilities. These are high traffic areas where toe nail fungus can easily be passed from one person to another.

Athletes Foot: Fungus infection of the skin between and around the toes is known as athletes foot. This same fungus can attack and infect the nails causing toenail fungus.

Excessively Sweaty Feet: Any increase in moisture combined with being in a closed shoe all day promotes an environment where nail fungus can flourish.

Diabetes, Poor Circulation and Other Immune Disorders: These conditions predispose people to nail fungus infections because the bodys immune system is compromised.

Injury/Damage to Nails: If your nail gets damaged or cracked, that can result in the nails being separated from the skin along the edges and under the front of the nail. This allows an entry point for the fungus, which can flourish and multiply within and under the surface of the nail. This can include aggressive pedicures and manicures.

Black Toenail Fungus Treatment And Prescription

When it comes to treating black toenail fungus, nothing works better than prescription medicine. However, it comes with its share of side effects. Therefore, you may require to have a discussion with your doctor and schedule tests to investigate how your kidney, liver, bone marrow and skin are doing while under the medications.

The doctor can also choose to give you a pulsed black toenail fungus treatment where you do not have to take the whole dose continually, but break on monthly basis. You have to follow the instructions and advice of your doctor while on treatment for it to be smooth. People who have had adverse side effects may not have kept their appointments with their doctors.

Furthermore, they have failed to reveal the other drugs they are using. Some black toenail fungus medicines do not work when you are on other medications. However, if you let your doctor know about what else you are using, he or she can give you a prescription that will go alongside what you are currently using.

The common oral medications given for black toenail fungus treatment include:

  • Terbinafine brand name
  • Itraconazole
  • Grieseofluvin

These are taken for a period of 6 weeks to a year or a year and half depending on the drug. Black toenail fungus treatment of these oral medications also works well when you are using topical prescription medications such as:

  • Ciclopirox
  • Oxiconazole

Read Also: How To Stop Toenail Fungus From Growing

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.


Crystal Flush & The Reviews

What is nail fungus?

Crystal Flush is a game-changer and my #1 recommendationfor getting rid of your fungus fast.”

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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.

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Dr. Mandira Mehra, M.D.

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Runners And Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungal infections are often a health issue for runners. “Distance runners sweat quite a bit,” Zinkin says. And sweaty socks and tight running shoes create the perfect moist environment for the growth of toenail fungus. Try using special socks that wick away moisture to keep feet dry. It’s also smart to alternate running shoes and allow each pair to dry out completely between wearings.

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.

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How To Treat Black Toenails

If you have a black toenail, dont panic. In most cases, it will simply grow out. However, in case of fungal infections or melanoma timely treatment is necessary.

If your black toenail wont grow out naturally, seek a doctors help. Your doctor will examine your toenail, may poke a needle to drain the blood, prescribe a topical antifungal medication, or recommend a biopsy for microscopic examination.

Soak your toe in cold water for 20 minutes, dry your feet and then apply the anti-fungal ointment prescribed by your doctor. Once you are done, cover your toenail with a clean bandage. If your toenails begin to detach, you should file your nail to prevent further tearing.

Avoid treating it at home, this procedure requires sterile conditions and a doctors office. Treating it at home can aggravate the infection and increase the chances of spread. Black toenail due to an underlying ailment needs immediate attention and a doctors intervention or opinion.

Also Check: Does Garlic Kill Toenail Fungus

Tight Shoes And Toenail Fungus

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

Wearing closed-toe shoes, especially those that are narrow in the toe box, can cause trauma to your toenails, which can weaken your nails and make them more susceptible to a toenail fungal infection, Zinkin says. When you have to wear a closed-toe shoe, choose footwear that offers plenty of room for your toes to move without being pinched. Or opt for shoes that allow your feet to breathe. “Any open-toed shoe or flip-flop will allow light and air circulation and will help prevent toenail fungus,” Zinkin says.

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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 you’re not bothered by it you might decide it’s not worth treating because treatment can take a long time, may cause side effects, and isn’t 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.

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.

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    Black Toenail Fungus Treatment

    If pain is severe, you should see your doctor to determine whether or not you need a treatment. The doctor may prescribe a medication or even decide to remove the black toenail or to make a hole in the nail to allow drainage which will relieve the pressure.

    If the pain is manageable, the best is to leave it to fall off when the new one begins to grow. However, there are numerous home remedies that are effective in combating nail fungus by reducing its spread available today like Vicks Vapor Rub, Listerine®, Tea Tree Oil, Hydrogen Peroxide , Vinegar and many others.

    Whos At Risk For Fungal Infections

    Toenail Fungus, What Causes This? Dr. Richard Jacoby

    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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    Toe Fungus Symptoms That May Develop

    Symptoms of toe fungus may vary, depending on which type of infection is invading the foot. If the fungus is located on the skin, symptoms may include:

    • Red, cracked skin

    If the fungus is located on the toenail, symptoms may include:

    • Discoloration of the nail, which may turn yellow or brown
    • Thickening of the nail
    • Foul odor coming from the infected area
    • White marks on the nail
    • Debris that collects under the nail

    What Are The Different Kinds Of Toenail Fungus

    • 1. Yeast Infection

    Candida albicans can infect children mostly with a weakened immune system. They can be infected in nails, mouth, hair or torso.

    This infection is relatively rare in adults and can only happen because of genetic disorders or a weak immune system.

    • 2. White Islands

    The white spots are formed on toenails and fingernails. In this case, the fungi spreads in the toenails and thrives in the nailbed. This is the most common type of toenail fungus.

    • 3. Distal Toenail Infection

    In this type of fungus infection, the nail shifts from the nailbed and that allows the fungi to enter the skin tissue. This is usually caused by wearing tight or closed shoes.

    • 4. Proximal Toenail Infection

    This is only seen in people with a weak immune system. The fungus directly enters the nailbed and starts multiplying because the immunity doesnt attack it well.

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    Toe Fungus Treatment Symptoms & Causes

    There are two types of toe fungusthe type found on the skin and the type found on the nails. The type that occurs on the skin is commonly known as athletes foot. The type that occurs on the nails is medically known as onychomycosis, but is more commonly known as toenail fungus.

    All toe fungus feeds on keratin. Keratin is a protein nutrient found in the cells of our skin and nails. The fungus begins to attack immediately and spreads quickly due to the breakdown of the keratin. The breakdown causes the skin to become scaly and flaky and the nails to become discolored and crumbly.

    Fungal infections usually affect the top layer of skin, hair, or nails and are usually caused by a group of fungi calleddermatophytes. Fungi are plant organisms known as eukaryotes, which are related to yeast and mold.

    Fungal infections are contagious and easily passed from person to person through physical contact, or by contact with an area that allows easy transmission of bacteria or fungi.

    Studies show toenail fungus doesnt affect children and adolescents as often as it does adults, especially older adults. It is estimated that 50 percent of people will contract the condition at least once before the age of 70.

    The initial stages of a fungal infection can last for years, giving the infection plenty of time to grow and spread.

    What To Eat & Avoid For Toenail Fungus

    Toenail Fungus

    Fungal infections on the skin are common among many individuals. The development of toenail fungus can be attributed to several causes including a candida virus or yeast in your body. Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium is a rather common fungal infection with about 3-12% of the population suffering from the condition. older people as well as those with weakened immune system, for example patients undergoing chemotherapy, are at a greater risk of developing toenail fungus. If you have toenail fungus, your toenails will appear yellowish or greenish, brittle, thickened and with white patches on the surface of the nail. Also, your nails may detach from the skin or nail bed, and feel pain around the nails.

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