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
Symptoms Of Fungal Nails
The good news is that if you catch it early enough, it can be fairly easy to eradicate toenail fungus and save your nails from further damage.
So how do you catch it in the early stages?
Well, inspecting your nails every day is the first step. Especially because toenail fungus can be present a very long time without causing noticeable symptoms.
Here are things you should look for when you examine your nails:
- Darkening or discoloration of the affected nail
- White or discolored spots that arent from an injury
- Thickening or distortion of the nail
- Unusual white or yellow streaks in your nail
- Crumbling along the edges or tips of the nail, particularly where its discolored
- Redness and swelling
- Foul odor emitting from the nail
- Pain when walking or wearing shoes
- The nail starts to separate from the nail bed
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your toenails, dont wait for them to go away on their own the infection will most likely continue to grow and spread .
Instead, get them diagnosed right away so the fungus can be eliminated quickly and before it causes visible damage to your nail.
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Tips To Keep Your Toes Fungus
Did you know that half of all nail diseases are caused by fungi? These tiny fungi sneak beneath your nail beds and can cause the toenails to become dark, brittle, and sometimes smelly.
While anyone can get toenail fungus , some people are at a greater risk. In fact, age, gender, genetics, overall health and many simple everyday habits can play a role in the development of a toenail fungal infection.
Here are the most common causes of toenail fungal infection, as well as how you can prevent toenail fungus and keep your feet healthy.
Remedies To Fight Toenail Fungus At Home
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is perhaps one of the most common nail disorders. It is a fungal infection that penetrates through chinks in your toenail, cuts in the surrounding skin, or the separation between the nail and the toe, and affects the material below the toenail.
The fungus tends to thrive in certain conditions, such as abnormal body pH, a weakened immune system, continuous exposure to a moist environment including sweaty shoes and socks, poor hygiene, and diabetes.
As embarrassing as this condition may be, simply camouflaging your unsightly toenail, such as painting your nails, without tending to it properly would do you more harm than good. If the infection goes untreated long enough, it could spread to the adjoining skin, to the other toenails, and even perhaps to your fingernails.
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Treatments For Fungal Nail Infections
Treatment isnt always needed for a mild fungal nail infection because its unlikely to cause any further problems and you may feel its not worth treating.
Whether you decide to have treatment or not, you should still practise good foot hygiene to stop the infection getting worse or spreading to others.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist if youre bothered by the appearance of the affected nail, or its causing problems such as pain and discomfort. Theyll probably recommend:
- antifungal tablets tablets taken once or twice a day for several months
- antifungal nail paints special paints applied directly to the nail over several months
- nail softening kits where a paste is used to soften infected parts of the nail, before theyre removed with a scraping device
A procedure to remove the nail completely may be recommended in severe cases. Laser treatment, where a high-energy laser is used to destroy the fungus, is also an option. But this is only available privately and can be expensive.
You can reduce your risk of developing a fungal nail infection by:
Nail salon equipment can sometimes be the source of fungal nail infections. If you regularly visit a salon, make sure any equipment used is properly sterilised between uses.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Fungal Nail Infection
A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.
As it progresses, the infection can cause:
- discolouration of the nail it may turn white, black, yellow or green
- thickening and distortion of the nail it may become an unusual shape or texture and be difficult to trim
- pain or discomfort particularly when using or placing pressure on the affected toe or finger
- brittle or crumbly nails pieces may break off and come away completely
Sometimes the skin nearby may also become infected and be itchy and cracked or red and swollen.
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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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Softening And Scraping Away The Nail
As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.
Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.
To use the treatment:
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Doctors Weigh Best Treatments
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.
Special Groups At Risk For Complications In Severe Onychomycosis
Delaying the treatment of a nail fungus until its late stages can be excruciatingly challenging. For some people with other diseases/conditions, avoiding the onset of severe onychomycosis is essential. The dangers that involve the end-stage nail disease can lead to an even more harmful situation for them.
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Tips To Combat Foot Fungus
The best way to combat foot fungus is to reduce your exposure to it. There are simple things you can do to prevent from contracting foot and nail fungus.
Nail Fungal Infection Treatment
Prescription medicines can treat a fungal nail infection. Oral antifungal medicines help a new nail grow. This will replace the infected nail. You may need to take antifungal medicine for 6 to 12 weeks. Some oral medicines are not safe for people who have liver problems. They are not safe for people who have a history of congestive heart failure. Tell your doctor if you have one of these conditions. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.
Apply topical treatments to the top of your nail. Topical medicines usually do not cure fungal nail infections.
In severe cases, a doctor might remove the nail completely. It can take several months to a year for the infection to go away.
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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.
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.
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Facts You Should Know About Fungal Nails
Fungal infection of the nails sometimes makes the condition sound contagious or related to poor hygiene. In fact, up to 10% of all adults in Western countries have fungal infection of the nails. This percentage increases to 20% of adults who are age 60 or older. Toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus.
In reality, abnormal-looking nails may be caused by a number of conditions including, but not limited to, fungal infection. There are many other reasons why your nails may look different.
Hammertoe Treatment And Prevention
While hammertoes are sometimes caused by muscle imbalances, they can also be caused by ill-fitting shoes. So to prevent hammertoes, make sure to wear properly fitting shoes with good arch support. If youre already suffering from a hammertoe, changing to better shoes or using orthotic inserts can help alleviate symptoms.
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Can Thick Toenails Cause Complications
Untreated toenail infections can cause some complications. Over time, the infection can get worse, and symptoms may become more severe. Toenails can thicken to the point that they cause discomfort when you try to wear shoes or even make it more difficult to walk.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions, treatment is vital so the fungus doesnt contribute to secondary infections or complications.
Turf Toe Treatment And Prevention
Physical therapy can alleviate inflammation around the toe and restore mobility. Turf toe can be difficult to prevent, as its caused by accidents. However, wearing stiff-soled shoes when exercising will help protect the big toe joint from injury. And stretching thoroughly before exercise or sports can decrease your chances of severe injury.
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Treatments Why Do Some People Experience Pain With Toe Fungus
There are a number of treatments for onychomycosis. Unfortunately, many are not very effective. The most aggressive and effective way to treat the fungus is with oral anti-fungal medications. The most common oral anti-fungal medications are Itraconazole and Terbinafine . Both medications are expensive and insurance companies tend to consider onychomycosis a cosmetic problem. If you are diabetic, your insurance company may consider onychomycosis a medical problem, and will cover the treatment. If you are experiencing pain or have developed ingrown toenails as a result, then your insurance company may cover treatment. The medication needs to be taken once daily for 3 months. The effectiveness of the medications ranges from 60 to 80%, with a recurrence rate of about 10-15%. Complete cure rates have been reported as low as 28%. Lamisil® appears to be more effective and has fewer drug interactions than Sporonox®. Why Do Some People Experience Pain With Toe Fungus
Fungal Nail Infection Treatment
See your doctor if you think you have nail fungus. It can be tough to get rid of, and youâre more likely to have success with a prescription. Treatments include:
- Oral antifungals. The doctor may give you a pill to kill fungus in your whole body. This is usually the best way to get rid of a nail infection. Treatment may last 2 months for an infection in your fingernails, or 3 months if itâs in your toenails.
- Topical antifungals. You rub or brush these medicines onto your nails. They may work for a mild infection, but they canât get deep enough into the nail to cure a more serious one. You might use a topical treatment in combination with a pill.
- Surgery. If other treatments donât work, the doctor may need to remove your nail entirely and let a healthy one grow back in its place. The new nail could also get infected.
- Laser or photodynamic therapy. Doctors are studying newer treatments that use special light to try to kill the fungus.
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How To Prevent Toenail Fungus
Because fungi are everywhere , they can be present months before they find opportunities to strike and before signs of infection appear. By following certain precautions, including proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes, chances of the problem occurring can be significantly reduced.
- Regularly clean and dry feet to resist disease. Follow a strict regimen of washing the feet with soap and water.
- Change socks and hosiery daily and change out shoes on a regular basis.
- Clip toenails straight across so the nail doesnt extend beyond the tip of your finger or toenails.
- Wear socks that are made of synthetic fiber to wick away moisture. Cotton and wool socks dont wick away moisture as fast as synthetic fiber does. This can be helpful in denying a hospitable environment for the fungi to grow in.
When To Call The Doctor
Its important to monitor both toe pain and any symptoms associated with it. Call your doctor if:
- Your toenail remains painful despite at-home treatment
- Your toenail pain affects your quality of life
- There is pus or discharge coming from your toenail
- Your toenail has a foul odor
- You have red streaks on your foot
- You have toenail pain and are diabetic
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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.