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How To Recognize Toenail Fungus

About Fungal Nail Infection

How do you know if you have a fungal nail infection?

Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. Its not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.

The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.

Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.

The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.

On My First Visit Dr Patel Diagnosed The Problem As Plantar Fasciitis And Began Treatment

I was dealing with nearly unbearable pain in my left foot. I was barely able to get through each day. I was sure my neuropathy was the problem. I went to a local podiatrist who told me the only problem I had was the neuropathy in my feet and I needed to see a neurologist. After conferring with my family doctor he referred me to Dr. Sanjay Patel.

On my first visit, Dr. Patel diagnosed the problem as Plantar Fasciitis and began treatment. After following Dr. Patels advice I no longer have pain in my left foot.

A Guide To Toenail Fungus

Onychomycosis, better known as toenail fungus, is a common ailment that affects millions of people every year. Characterized by changes in the color of the toenail, such as looking white, black, or yellow, the fungus is an infection underneath the nail that is caused by yeast or other bacteria. They attack the keratin found in your nail to survive, and if left untreated, toenail fungus can cause an embarrassing, foul-smelling odor that prevents you from wearing sandals or otherwise feeling comfortable being barefoot.

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What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Toenail Fungus

3 Essential Tips to Identify Nail Fungus Infection

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.

References

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How To Distinguish A Fungal Infection Of The Nails From Other Diseases

In the first stages of development of fungal infection can be confused with skin diseases or trauma of the nail. To not run negative manifestations, it is important to know the main differences of the fungal growth.

  • Darkening of the nail plate, the appearance of yellow spots and longitudinal stripes, which eventually become larger and penetrate deeper into the nail.
  • The smooth progression of the disease without exacerbations and calm, as is the case in psoriasis. The fungus gradually deforms the nail plate until its detachment from the bed.
  • Odor and painful sensations, also distinguishes a fungus from injuries or psoriatic lesions, eczema, lichen.
  • Causes of fungus can be access to the public areas , wearing tight shoes , increased sweating feet, diaper rash, and contact with an infected person.
  • The fungus initially appears on one particular finger, often large, then it affects the rest of the phalanges and interdigital areas.
  • These differences help to identify the fungus in the early stages of its development. The main thing is to understand that self-diagnosis is not enough. For effective treatment you need examination by a specialist.

    Mycosis a nasty and insidious disease that can masquerade as other pathologies . It is important to monitor closely the nails and feet, and when suspicious symptoms in time to see a doctor for timely treatment.

    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:

    • terbinafine

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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.

    Stages Of The Disease

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    The disease occurs in four stages. The earlier you start treatment, the more likely you are to get rid of nail fungus forever.

    The first stage is characterized by damage to the edge of the nail. As mentioned above, the color of the plate changes, bulges appear. The nail grows poor quality, hollow and therefore breaks and crumbles.

    The increase in the area of the lesion will become a sign of the second stage. In addition, it should be noted that sometimes the second stage can begin, as if bypassing the first. The defeat of the nail plate will start not from the edge, but at the base of the nail. Recovery from nail fungus in the second stage will be more problematic than in the first.

    How to identify nail fungus in stage 3? In medicine it is called a sponge with a white surface and it seems that the whole plate is affected. It has a thick white color, it crumbles strongly at the edges.

    The fourth stage is called total dystrophic fungus. The nail has a yellowish-gray color, emits a particularly unpleasant odor and crumbles heavily. In the fourth stage, you can often see the exposed part of the skin under the broken nail, as it has grown due to the fungus, in most cases it breaks off.

    The reason for contacting a dermatologist is often the independent identification of the fourth stage of nail fungus. Don’t look on forums or the internet for advice on how to effectively treat nail fungus. It is better to consult a specialist at the first symptoms of the disease.

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    A Pharmacist Can Help With Fungal Nail Infections

    Speak to a pharmacist if the look of your nail bothers you or it’s 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 it’s 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.

    A Few Words About Effective Treatment

    So now we know how to identify toenail fungus. The methods are given above. Now it is worth saying a few words about the treatment you can do yourself. Naftifine has been shown to be quite effective. However, it is not necessary to use an ointment, but a solution. This medicine can also be used in case of a fungal infection of the feet.

    How should I use Naftifin? If you have fungus in the first stage of the disease, then lubricate the affected nail surface twice a day. Keep your nails dry and well washed. In the next stages of the disease, you cannot do without taking pills. In this case, however, the use of Naftifin should not be stopped: this will increase the effect of the drugs.

    Before applying the product, clean the well-affected surface of the nail with a manicure device. However, you need to be extremely careful when doing this. After perfect manipulations it is necessary to apply Naftifin solution on the cleaned area. Repeat 2 times a day.

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    Toenail Fungus Common Questions

    If youre dealing with toenail fungus, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Many people struggle with toenail fungus and have a lot of questions. How did the infection start? Can I treat the fungal infection at home? What kind of doctor should I see for toenail fungus? Does laser nail fungus removal work?

    Symptoms of a fungal toenail infection

    Although toenail fungus is relatively common, it isnt unusual for people to keep their condition to themselves. Up to a point, its okay to ignore some thickening or discoloration. However, if the condition gets worse, you may begin to experience pain or unpleasant smells. The most common symptoms of an infection include:

    • Thickening nails and distortion in shape
    • Changes in color until nails are white, yellow, or brownish
    • Nails begin to break and crumble
    • The nail becomes detached from the toe
    • An appearance of dark debris under the nails
    • A slightly foul smell

    If youve started to notice that nails are becoming warped or break easily, pay attention to whether you have any other related symptoms. Of course, catching an infection early is the best way to prevent further discomfort.

    Causes of fungal infections

    Toenail fungus treatment options

    Cover The Affected Area In Oregano Oil

    How To Know If Toenail Fungus Is Dying / How To Know If ...

    Believe it or not, the tasty herb can also work wonders for treating toenail fungus at home. According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Skin Appendage Disorders, researchers found that oreganos antibacterial properties are able to inhibit fungal growth in nails when included in an essential oil blend.

    While the effectiveness of oregano oil has only been known anecdotally, thymola common component of oregano oilhas been reviewed to be an effective antibacterial and antifungal agent, Hayag says. People with toenail fungus can apply the product to affected areas twice daily and can expect no improvement, partial improvement, or complete improvement of their toenail fungus after using oregano oil. That said, she mentioned that oregano oil is quite potent and can cause an adverse reaction if you have particularly sensitive skin. For this reason, she recommends starting with a patch test. Additionally, to prevent an adverse reaction, consider mixing oregano oil with a carrier oil, such as olive or avocado oils, to dilute its potency.

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    Tips For Preventing Toenail Fungus

    The easiest way to treat toenail fungus is to know the steps to toenail fungus prevention. Fungus thrives on moist, dark environments, so it is vital to wash and try feet thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. Additionally, shoes that fit properly are essential for allowing air to circulate to your feet. If you shower or swim in public locker rooms, pools, or beaches, be sure to wear shower shoes when walking around, and always change into dry socks if your feet become damp because of rain or snow.

    Other methods for preventing toenail fungus include clipping your toenails regularly and straight across, spraying your shoes with anti-fungal protection products, and cleaning your nail clippers between each use.

    How Do You Recognize Nail Fungus

    • Discoloration of the nail in the initial stage
    • Deformation and thickening of the nail plate
    • Nails become brittle and individual layers of the nail split
    • apart from the advanced stage of nail mycosis, the nail stands out from the nail bed
    • Complete detachment and loss of the nail in the final stage of nail fungus
    • Inflammation of the nail bed

    Nail fungus can be recognized that the brand loses its luster, is thickened and discolored.

    The color of the nail changes to white or a yellowish-brown tone in the initial stages of nail mycosis.

    In addition, the shape of the toenail or the nail on the hand can change due to the fungi.

    Another symptom that can be used to recognize nail fungus is that the affected nail becomes brittle and parts of the nail split off.

    If it is an infestation with mold, the nail can become darker than if it is an infestation with dermatophytes, and black nail fungus develops.

    Different areas of the nails can be affected.

    In the beginning, the fungus usually penetrates the underside of the nail plate at the end of the nail and only then spreads towards the nail root. Most often, the toe nails are affected, especially the big toe nail.

    Mycosis on the nails should be treated as it cannot heal on its own. If the nail fungus is ignored, the infection can spread to other nails.

    In addition, the nail bed can become inflamed, and this can lead to severe pain.

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    How Fungi Infect The Nail

    Onchomycosis, or toenail fungal infection, is an invasion by a microscopic organism that thrives in warm, damp environments. Fungal spores are in the air, and they will grow if they land on a receptive surface like your toenail. They feed off the nail tissues, burrowing into the skin under the nail. Over time the nail thickens and may lift off the nail bed as fungal debris accumulates. Once your nail is raised off the nail bed, it won’t reattach, and a new nail won’t grow from that part of the nail bed. However, your nail will continue to grow from the root at the base.

    Toenail Fungus Onychomycosis Is Commonly Seen In Discoloration Thickening And Flakiness Of The Nail

    Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus And How Do I Fix It?

    As to how much time? Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. To know whether you have toenail fungus, the common symptoms you would see are the nail thickens and is rugged. Nails infected with fungi, yeast, or molds may. Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is an infection on the undersurface of the toenail caused by fungi.

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    Nail Color And Structure Changes

    Keratin is a protein that promotes the development of the skin and nails. Nail psoriasis sometimes causes too much keratin to grow under the nail. This overgrowth is called subungual hyperkeratosis.

    People with hyperkeratosis may notice a white, chalky substance under the nail. When this occurs in the toenails, the pressure of shoes pushing down on the nails might cause pain.

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    What Can Happen If Left Untreated

    While you can treat nail fungus on your own, if you are having trouble getting your toenail fungus under control, see a professional foot doctor for help. Leaving an infection alone, without treatment, can cause permanent damage within the nail and allow the infection to spread to other areas of your foot. Also, a severe toenail fungus infection is painful, so you shouldnt suffer needlessly when treatment is available.

    Signs And Symptoms Of A Fungal Nail Infection

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    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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