What causes a Toenail Fungal Infection?

Fungal infections are highly prevalent and they can affect any part of the human body. Comparatively, toenail fungus is one of the most common types of fungal infections. Onychomycosis or tinea unguium survives on nail keratin and it can affect either toenail or fingernail.
A toenail fungal infection prevails when fungi overgrow on a nail. Usually, a warm and moist environment is ideal for this overpopulation. Surprisingly, an athlete’s foot, ringworm and jock itch, all can cause onychomycosis.

How to know if its fungal infection?

Fungal infections on toes are extremely difficult to identify. It is painless and the person doesn’t really feel anything so he never knows whether or not he is suffering from an infection. For most of people, it seems just like discoloration and nothing else.
Some of the common signs of a fungal toenail infection are as follows:

Distorted nail as a result of an injury where the nail leaves the nail bed
A distinct odor coming from toenail
A brittle nail
A discolored nail

Toenail fungus can be easily confused with other infections and injuries and a physical examination may not always be accurate. Hence the only way of diagnosis requires a complete checkup by a certified doctor. For confirmation, studying the scrapings from a nail under a microscope can help. Fungi hyphae are so tiny that only a microscopic examination can show their presence.

Who is at a higher risk?

There is no one specific cause of fungal nail infections. There are more than one fungal strains that can initiate it. each one of these requires specific treatment. The only good thing about fungal nail infections is that they are easy to prevent. But many times it is almost impossible to prevent it. It includes those people who are at the highest risk of getting an infection.

Usually, the following cases share a high chance of catching fungal infection than the rest.

Circulatory diseases
Old age
Acrylic nails
Shared public spaces
Nail injury
Close contact to water
Impaired immunity
closed-toe shoes i.e. boots

Unexpectedly, toenail functions are more common in adult men than adult women. If any family member is suffering from a toenail infection, others are more likely to catch it.

Is there a way to treat and prevent it?

For treating toenail fungus, the doctor may recommend using oral as well as a topical medication. It may take longer to completely remove the infection for people with low immunity. Some common treatment medication includes terbinafine, ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, griseofulvin, and others. Depending upon which fungal strain is causing the toenail infection, the doctor recommends using a particular class of antifungal medicines.

Using topical solutions alone may not be as effective as using oral as well as topical medication both. If ignored, these infections may spread and damage visceral organs.

Although the treatment plan sounds difficult to follow it is easy to prevent developing fungal infections at first. Only a few simple lifestyle changes prevent toenail infections such as following a good hygiene practice. Do not leave excessive skin around the nails. Make sure to dry nails while washing feet or bathing. Do not get nail treatments from untrustworthy salons and other public places and always wash the hands after touching or applying the infected toenail.

A toenail fungal infection may look difficult to heal and sometimes it seems like the medicine isn’t working. However, only a certified doctor can help to find an accurate treatment plan. In extreme cases where the toenail fungus causes permanent damage to the nail, the doctor may remove it. The new growing nail is free from infection and fungal overgrowth.

The diabetic patients should see a dermatologist as soon as possible if they suspect having a toenail fungal infection. The risk for onychomycosis is highest among diabetic patients and only a timely diagnosis can prevent it from spreading and damaging the nail.

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