What Is A Toenail Fungus Infection
A fungal infection is caused by an overgrowth of many different types of fungi . In warm and moist environments, the fungi can thrive and quickly overpopulate.
A toenail fungus infection might cause:
- Discoloration of the nail
- Warped nails
- Brittle and easily cracked nails
- The nail can separate from the nail bed, leaving space underneath the nail.
- There might also be an odor to the nails
The fungus is contagious and may spread to the skin between the toes and other parts of the foot. This is commonly known as athleteâs foot.
Fungal infections can also happen in your groin area and on your scalp.
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.
What Symptoms Develop Due To A Toenail Fungus
White or yellow spots at the tip of your toenail are usually the first signs of a fungal infection. As the infection spreads, your toenails start to thicken and turn yellow. Thickened nails can become quite painful when youre wearing shoes.
When it goes untreated, the infection affects the shape of your nail and makes the nail edges crumble. The infection can also spread to your skin and cause athletes foot.
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Dermatophytes: A Common Cause Of Toenail Fungus
Your toenails are composed of 80% hard keratin and 20% soft keratin. Keratin is also in your skin and hair. Dermatophytes, the fungi that usually cause onychomycosis, feed on keratin to grow and multiply.
Dermatophytes love warm, moist environments, including:
- Public pools
- Locker rooms
Onychomycosis is highly contagious, so its easy to catch. When dermatophytes find their way to your feet as a result of exposure to sweat, public showers, or steam rooms, the dermatophytes consume the keratin in your nails by breaking it down into smaller particles. The crumbly residue on your infected toenails is actually keratin debris.
You can also get toenail fungus as a result of being more susceptible to foot problems, especially if youre diabetic, have circulation problems, or you have a weakened immune system. These other conditions, including chronic skin problems like psoriasis, often lead to toenail fungus if your feet are exposed to it, or you dont keep your feet cool and dry after swimming or going to the gym.
Dermatologists Explain The Cause Of Nail Fungus
Do you or someone you love suffer from nail fungus? Its a common problem that can happen to anyone, but there are a few individuals who are at a higher risk than others. Did you know that your age, health, and lifestyle can all play a part in whether you will develop those unsightly, thickened surface, yellow nailbeds?
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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.
How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus
All treatments can take up to a year to work, so you need to be consistent and commit to following the treatment plan for the long haul.
These infections are hard to treat because its difficult for medications to get into the keratin that makes up nails and the blood vessels dont connect to the nail. Many people find it hard to continue to use the medications for as long as is needed and may give up after months or even weeks.
Sometimes the nail will start to look better, but the fungus is still there. Your toenail fungus isnt cured until your doctor cant detect the fungus in your toenail clippings.
There are a lot of folk remedies and over-the-counter topical treatments, but if you really want to get rid of this infection, youre probably going to need to take oral medication. Dr. Jacobsen
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Is It Fungus Or Melanoma
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can develop on the nail bed. It has a dark brown or black color and can be mistaken for toenail fungus or another toenail problem like a bruise. Melanoma is much less common than toenail fungus, but it can be life-threatening if not caught early.
Both toenail fungus and melanoma can appear as a dark stripe on the toenail and may increase in size over time. The toenail can become split and damaged in both conditions.
Toenail fungus is more likely to cause thickening of the toenail and a buildup of material underneath it. Melanoma causes the skin of the nailbed to change color, which does not happen with toenail fungus, but it can be difficult to see.
Because melanoma can be very aggressive, its important to have your doctor examine a darkened toenail. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of toenail fungus by looking at clippings under a microscope and of melanoma by taking a biopsy.
What Causes Toenail Fungus And How Can I Get Rid Of It
Unsightly toenails arent just an embarrassing condition that causes you to feel self-conscious about anyone else seeing your feet theyre usually a sign of a fungal infection. If your toenails are crusty, thick, or crumbly, and yellow or brown in color, the problem is beyond cosmetic. Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a common condition that can spread from your toenails to your feet as athletes foot.
At New Canaan Podiatry, our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Tauber, offers effective treatment for toenail fungus, right here in our state-of-the-art office in New Canaan, Connecticut.
If youre one of the many Americans with a toenail condition, you may be wondering if its a fungal infection and what you can do to get rid of it. Dr. Tauber can identify the underlying cause of your toenail fungus and provide expert treatment to get rid of it, so you dont have to feel embarrassed about your feet anymore.
Onychomycosis is difficult to resolve at home, so if you suspect you have a case of it, be sure to get it professionally diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
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What Are The Potential Complications Of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus rarely results in serious complications in people who are otherwise healthy. However, many people find the look of toenail fungus embarrassing. People with diabetes, circulation problems, or weakened immune systems have a higher risk of complications. The main one being cellulitisa bacterial infection of the surrounding skin.
Left untreated, toenail fungus can spread to other nails. It can also progress to nail thickening and detachment. This can make walking or wearing shoes painful. Untreated toenail fungus can lead to permanent nail damage as well. Even after successful treatment, severe infections can leave nails with enduring changes. Recurrence is also common. As with most other conditions, seeking early treatment when symptoms are mild usually results in the best outcome. Once treatment is over, talk with your doctor and ask about ways to reduce the risk of toenail fungus returning.
What About The Cost Of Oral Medications For Fungal Nails
A further consideration is cost. Because newer oral antifungal agents are very expensive, some insurance companies balk at paying for what they consider a “cosmetic issue,” unless nail fungus causes pain or other functional symptoms. Terbinafine and fluconazole are now available as generic drugs and are quite inexpensive.
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Podiatry Located In Davis Ca Carmichael Ca & Sacramento Ca
Toenail fungus is a common problem that affects 12% of all Americans. While many people are embarrassed about the appearance of their infected toenails, they also have reason to worry about an untreated infection spreading. Sacramento Foot and Ankle Center in Davis, Carmichael and Sacramento, California, offers quick and highly effective treatment using the advanced PinPointe laser. To learn more about laser treatment for toenail fungus, schedule an appointment online, or call one of the offices today.
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Toenail Fungus Prescription Medications
Sometimes prescription medications are needed to treat a toenail infection that just wont go away with natural remedies or over-the-counter medication in a few months. In this case, prescription-strength antifungal medication can eradicate stubborn onychomycosis.
Topical medications often are effective in treating mild to moderate toenail fungus. Topical solutions may include medicated nail polishes or liquid medications. Loprox , Penlac , Kerydin , and Jublia are among the top prescription drugs for toenail fungus.
Oral medications can come in capsules, tablets, or liquid. Some common prescriptions are Diflucan , Lamisil , Onmel , and Sporanox .
Who Gets Nail Fungus
People who live in hot and humid climates have an increased risk of infection due to their living environment. Your medical situation also plays a big part in whether such a fungus can thrive on your body. Those who have the following conditions are more susceptible:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Those Who Frequent Gyms, Spas, or Swimming Pools
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What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Nail Fungus
With treatment, many people can get rid of nail fungus. Even when the fungus clears, your nail may look unhealthy until the infected nail grows out. A fingernail grows out in 4 to 6 months and a toenail in 12 to 18 months.
To clear the fungus, its important to:
Use the treatment exactly as prescribed
Apply the medicine for as long as prescribed
Keep all follow-up appointments with your dermatologist
Nail fungus can be stubborn. If you had a severe infection, its possible to clear the infection. A healthy looking nail, however, may be unrealistic, but you can expect the nail to look better and feel more comfortable.
Even with clearing, nail fungus can return. Youll find steps to reduce your risk in Tips: 12 ways to prevent another nail infection.
ReferenceGold LFS and Rosen T. Onychomycosis: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies. Dermatology News . March 2016:2-15.
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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Which Laser Therapy Device Is Best
We swear by our non-thermal cold laser device in treating toenail fungus in our practice. Its called Lunula Laser and its made by Erchonia. Its the first of its kind and the only non-thermal cold laser device to get FDA market clearance to treat onychomycosis.
This is likely thanks to its three successful clinical trials that ensure safety and effectiveness.
Whats so special about this laser? Besides the fact that its safe and effective, we love that it uses a low-level laser wavelength. Thanks to this type of cold laser, theres no discomfort or searing heat pain during treatment like with some of the other laser devices. The treatment also encompasses your entire foot. It requires no operator, so man-made errors are eliminated unlike with other lasers on the market.
The laser doesnt emit smoke fumes and 89% of patients have a positive response to the treatment.
Also, we love that this device is made in the United States.
Are There Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
The Internet is filled with anecdotal information on how to cure toenail fungus using home remedies. Vinegar is a commonly recommended home remedy. Some people apply various oils such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, essential oils, and oil of cedar leaf to their nails as well. The effectiveness of these home remedies is highly doubtful. Application of household bleach and hydrogen peroxide is also not recommended due to lack of evidence that these treatments work. These agents can also cause unwanted skin irritation. Thickened nails that have been affected by fungus can be difficult to trim. Using topical urea cream will soften the nail and make it easier to trim. These creams do not require a prescription.
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What Causes Nail Fungus
Many things can cause nail fungus, but it all starts from fungi that get into the nailbeds and fester. Small, microscopic organisms called fungi cause an infection in the nail that multiplies. Commonly, a condition such as ringworm or athletes foot introduces the fungi to the nail.
Still, having skin-to-skin contact with other contaminants or someone infected can also cause this unsightly problem. Places like locker rooms, saunas, or a pool deck are also loaded with fungi, they love to dwell in moist areas. Walking across a public pool deck barefooted may be all it takes to introduce fungi to your nails.
You can pick up this infection from a pair of finger or toenail clippers, or even a bath towel in the household. Another shocking thing to consider is that you can develop this fungus even if you havent been exposed. The feet of someone who wears socks and shoes are regularly subjected to moisture from sweat, and its easy for fungi to thrive in such an environment.
How does the fungus make the leap from the skin to the nail? Here are a few ways to consider:
- Cuts or abrasions surrounding the nailbeds
- Cracks or tears in the nail
- A space or separation between the toe or finger and the nail
Underneath the nail is nice and warm because the body is nearly 99 degrees. The infection can set up residence there as its the perfect breeding ground to live and thrive. Once it begins to grow here, it will move and spread to other areas of the body.
Toenail Fungus Treatment Complications
Here are some things to think about when deciding on a nail fungus treatment.
If you have a disease like diabetes, your doctor will make sure you treat nail fungus. This illness often makes you more likely to have other problems from minor foot issues.
You may not be able to take antifungal pills because of side effects or because they donât work well with other drugs you take. If that’s the case, try a product that goes onto your nail. Your doctor will call this a topical treatment.
Be patient. Your nails may not look “normal” after treatment. It can take as long as a year to 18 months for your nail to grow out a fungus.
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Before Taking This Medicine
You should not use Jublia if you are allergic to efinaconazole.
It is not known whether efinaconazole will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
It is not known whether efinaconazole topical passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding a baby.
Jublia solution is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 years old.
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:
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What Causes Fungal Nails And What Are Some Of The Risk Factors
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.