How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus
Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:
- Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
- If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
- Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
- Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
- Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
- If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
- Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
- Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across .
- Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.
What Are Treatments For Toenail Fungus
Do you need to treat your nail fungus? Maybe it doesn’t hurt, and the yellow, thick nails don’t bother you.
But nail fungus doesn’t go away by itself. And if you don’t treat it, there’s a chance it could get worse. It could spread to other nails or through your body. It could cause pain when you walk.
There are a number of ways to take care of it, including:
Nonprescription options. You can buy antifungal creams, gels, and nail polish at the store and online without a prescription. You might want to try one of them first if the infection doesn’t look bad. Some people also swear by home remedies like menthol rub, tea tree oil, mouthwash, or snakeroot extract — but studies show mixed results.
Prescription polish and creams. Your foot doctor will likely trim your nail and file away its dead layers. They may also take a piece of your nail and send it to the lab to make sure itâs really a fungus and to find out what type it is.
The doctor might suggest an antifungal drug that you paint on your nails. This may work on its own, or they may suggest you take it with antifungal pills.
Prescription medications. One of several antifungal pills may help. They work, but it may take many months to do the job. They also come with side effects like nausea, vomiting, and headaches. They may cause liver damage too, so your doctor will watch you closely while you take them. Be sure to tell them about any other meds youâre taking — some antifungal pills might not work well with them.
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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Mayo Clinic Q And A: Treatment For Toenail Fungus Isnt Always Necessary
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am in my late 50s, and a few of my toenails have turned a yellowish color and seem to have thickened. Is this something I should be concerned about? Is there anything I can do to fix this?
ANSWER: What youre likely experiencing is a fungal nail infection. Fungal nail infections are common, especially among older adults. As nail growth slows with age, its easier for fungus to establish in the nail bed. Treatments are available, although they may take some vigilance and are not always necessary.
Toenail fungus usually is caused by a microscopic organism called dermatophyte fungus. It often begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your toenail. But as the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. These fungal infections are more likely to happen in your toenails than in your fingernails because toenails often are confined in a dark, warm, moist environment, where fungi can thrive. Toes also have less blood flow than fingers, making it harder for your bodys immune system to detect and stop the infection. But it is possible for fingernails to be affected.
The older you are, the more likely you are to get toenailfungus. Thats because as you age, your immune system changes. Inaddition, your nails become more brittle and drier over time, creating morecracks where fungus can live.
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What Causes Nail Fungus
Usually, nail fungus occurs when fungus enters the nail through a small trauma in the nail. Nail fungus is not caused by poor hygiene. Nail fungus can be spread from person to person. It may be hard to determine exactly where or how a fungal infection is acquired. However, a warm, wet place is a good place for a fungus to grow.
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Is It Toenail Fungus Or Something Else
Odd-looking toenail? It may be a fungal infection, but there’s a good chance that another condition could be to blame.
If you notice an odd spot on your toenail, you might assume its a fungal infection. However, theres a good chance that its not.
Spots or discolorations on or under a toenail could be bruises resulting from trauma to the nail, blood blisters, warts, or even subungual melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says Ami Sheth, a doctor of podiatric medicine in Los Gatos, California, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Since nail irregularities can be caused by diseases besides these as well, its best to get it looked at, says Dr. Sheth.
Richard Goad, a doctor of podiatric medicine at Baylor Scott & White Health in Waco, Texas, concurs. Sometimes the nail will be the first place to show another underlying problem, Dr. Goad says.
So is it a fungus, a false alarm, or another condition entirely?
When Should I Call The Doctor
In rare cases, toenail fungus can cause an infection called cellulitis. Without prompt treatment, cellulitis may pose a serious danger to your health.
You should seek treatment guidance from a trusted healthcare provider if you have:
- Circulation problems.
- Redness, pain or pus near the toenail.
- Weakened immune system.
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Nail Fungus Can Cause Other Forms Of Body Infections
Other body infections are a huge risk when a nail fungal infection is ignored. As mentioned, nail fungal infections may contaminate the surrounding skin. When the skin becomes cracked and open, bacteria can easily enter and create a widespread infection all over your body.
A simple fungal nail infection can lead to cellulitis. This condition produces swollen, red, tender skin and demands immediate treatment with antibiotics. Severe cellulitis can also enter the bloodstream and become life-threatening.
Essential Oils For Toenail Fungus
Can essential oils help treat toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is just that, a fungus. And as such, there are many all-natural alternatives to over-the-counter medications to help rid your nails of fungus. Lemon slices is a commonly used natural therapy which simply requires one to lay the pulpy part of the lemon slices over the nail to allow the citrus to penetrate the nail the same way the fungus does. An even more effective treatment for many, is essential oils.
Essential oils are comprised of the essence of the plant it was extracted from. They are very concentrated and most cannot be used directly on the skin as a result. Many essential oils contain terpenes and other compounds that have their own benefits such as being antimicrobial, antibacterial and yes, antifungal. Essential oils have many other types of attributes such as pain relief, reducing inflammation and even aiding internal issues for us such as indigestion or nausea.
Here is a list of essential oils can help rid your nails of fungus.
- Tea Tree
Lemon essential oil has a low pH level due to its high citric acid content. Lowering the pH level of the infected area is an effective treatment for fungus since many types of fungus cannot live in lower pH levels. Like Tea Tree oil, lemon oil requires a carrier oil to help dilute it and can be used in a foot soak as well.
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Diagnosing And Treating Toenail Changes
If you notice changes in the appearance of your toenails, see a doctor promptly. If a fungal infection is suspected, a sample of the nail can be taken and analyzed by a lab to make a diagnosis. If the test comes back positive, an oral or topical antifungal medication may be prescribed to treat the fungus. Most antifungal medications are effective against most forms of toenail fungus, although treatment can take some time, in part because its hard to deliver any type of medication through the nail plate to the skin under the nail.
Most of the time, the treatment requires the whole nail to grow out, which can take up to a year, says Sheth. Treatment needs to be consistent and long-term if it has any chance of working.
If the test comes back negative for fungus, your doctor may begin investigating other causes for the abnormal appearance of your toenails. Sometimes symptoms involving other parts of the body help point to a diagnosis.
People with yellow nail syndrome, for example, may experience leg swelling or breathing problems. Those with alopecia could see their hair begin to fall out.
And, according to Goad, With psoriasis, patches of red, scaly skin may be seen on the knees, elbows, and face, too. Its usually not limited to just the toenails.
Additional reporting by Susan Jara
Treating A Fungal Infection
Toenail fungus can be persistent and difficult to overcome. Your first step is prevention. Keeping your feet clean and dry can keep your fungus from advancing or spreading.
- Wash your feet regularly, being sure to dry them thoroughly including between toes
- Moisturize your nails after washing
- Wash your hands after touching your infected feet
- Wear shower footwear in public locker rooms or pools
- Keep your nails trimmed with smooth edges
- Wear absorbent socks or change them through the day if your feet perspire heavily
- Choose shoes made from breathable natural materials
If you have a condition that makes it difficult to tend to your own nails, consider having a medical professional perform these duties. Dr. Gindi and his staff offer geriatric and arthritic foot care.
There are over the counter and prescription antifungal medications that help control toenail fungus. Laser treatment is also an option, penetrating through the nail to kill fungus below the surface.Contact Errol Gindi, D.P.M. by phone or online to arrange your consultation. Toenail fungus is a problem that wont go away on its own, so schedule your appointment now.
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How To Get Rid Of Foot Fungus: Can Home Remedies Help
This article was co-authored by . Dr. Mark Co is a Podiatrist who runs his own private practice in San Francisco, California. Dr. Co specializes in treatments for bunions, ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, warts, plantar fasciitis and other causes of foot pain. He also offers custom orthotics for the treatment and prevention of foot and ankle issues. Dr. Co completed a Master of Business Administration at New York University and an MA in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Co also completed his DPM at the California School of Podiatric Medicine and a residency and internship at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara, California. Dr. Co was awarded San Franciscoâs âTop 3 Podiatristsâ in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Dr. Co is also a member of the CPMA .There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 95,579 times.
A Pharmacist Can Help With Fungal Nail Infections
Speak to a pharmacist if the look of your nail bothers you or its painful.
They may suggest:
- antifungal nail cream it can take up to 12 months to cure the infection and does not always work
- nail-softening cream its used for 2 weeks to soften the nail so the infected part can be scraped off
The infection is cured when you see healthy nail growing back at the base.
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Why Does My Nail Fungus Keep Coming Back
Are you dealing with stubborn nail fungus that just doesnt seem to go away and stay gone? However frustrating it may be, the good news is, youre not alone! Nail fungus is very common, with an estimated 3 to 12 percent of the population being affected.
It isnt always easy to determine if whats happening under your nails is a fungal infection or another skin condition. To be sure, go ahead and make an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists, Samantha Childers, DPM, or Ricky Childers, DPM, at North Central Texas Foot & Ankle. In addition to our Decatur, Texas, location, we have an office in Roanoke, Texas, as well.
In the meantime, lets go over the causes of nail fungus, why it might keep recurring, and some ways to try to prevent it.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Toenail fungus is typically not a significant problem for most people. However, if there are no improvements or complications occur as a result of home remedies, people should speak with a doctor and stop using the home remedy as soon as possible. It is also advisable to contact a podiatrist if a person notices any discoloration, thickening, or abnormality of the toenails.
Furthermore, people at higher risk for complications should seek medical treatment for their toenail fungus and avoid home remedies altogether. This includes those with diabetes or with weakened immune systems.
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Toenail Fungus Home Care
Sometimes itâs possible to treat your toenail fungus at home. You can try:
- Over the counter antifungal creams or ointments. File or cut off any white markings on your nails. Soak your nails in water and dry off before you put on the medicated cream.
- Special nail care. If you keep your nails trimmed, it can reduce the pressure and pain you feel. You can also thin your nail bed by filing it down. This can help antifungal creams get to the problem easier.
Stop This Skin Infection In Its Tracks With These Over
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Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang
Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
The fungus often begins in the form of athletes foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies, she says.
Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe.
Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.
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How Feet Get Infected And Die
Bacteria is everywhere, and any break in the skin is an opportunity for an infection. Some infections are mild, but others are stronger and tough for your body to beat. Once the bacteria has settled into your tissues, it multiplies and spreads, slowly taking over that area. If left unchecked, an infection can overwhelm and kill tissues, leading to gangrene.
Gangrene is when a section of living tissue dies. Its a severe complication of an infection, though injuries or conditions that severely restrict blood flow can cause it too. Without enough oxygen or nutrients, that part of the body will slowly die. A fracture, a blood clot, a dislocationanything that damages blood flow, or can become infected, could potentially lead to dead tissue.
Its most common in the extremities like your feet, too, since circulation is already weaker there, limiting the nutrients and oxygen reaching your tissues, as well as your immune system. Conditions that impair your circulation or immune systemlike diabetes or peripheral arterial diseasehave an even higher risk for gangrene complications.
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