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How To Tell If You Have Toenail Fungus

What Other Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Fungal Nails

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

Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:

  • Lines and ridges: These are common and may be considered normal. They may worsen during pregnancy. A large groove down the center of the nail can be caused by nail biting. Some people may develop these changes following chemotherapy.
  • Senile nails: As you age, the nails become brittle and develop ridges and separation of the nail layers at the end of the nail. To avoid this, try to clean solutions and donât soak the nails in water.
  • Whitish or yellowish nails can occur due to onycholysis. This means separation of the nail from the nail bed. The color you see is air beneath the nail. The treatment is to trim the nail short, donât clean under it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. Persistent onycholysis can make the nails susceptible to fungal infection.
  • Red or black nails due to a hematoma, or blood under the nail, usually occur from trauma . The discolored area will grow out with the nail and be trimmed off as you trim your nails. If you have a black spot under your nail that was not caused by trauma, you may want to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist if it involves a toenail to make sure it is not melanoma . A simple biopsy can rule out malignancy .
  • Trichophyton

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    What Is The Outlook For Someone With Toenail Fungus

    While toenail fungus is common, its usually not harmful. Symptoms mostly affect the look of your toenail.

    Toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes or other areas of your body. When getting dressed, put your socks on first to reduce the chance of spread.

    Treating toenail fungus takes a long time, and it doesnt always work. Even then, toenail fungus often returns. Discuss the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus with your provider to determine whats best for you.

    Practicing good hygiene and foot care reduces the chance toenail fungus will come back. If you have diabetes, getting regular foot exams may help you address foot problems before they get serious.

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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.

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    What Does A Toenail Bruise Look Like

    The color of your toenail is a good indicator of whats going on. Toenail bruising usually starts off as a dark red and turns purple, then dark rusty brown, and finally, it turns black.

    And If the dark spot in the nail looks shiny, you can still see through the nail around the colored spot to the nail bed, and the discolored spot is uniform in color , then its most likely a bruise.

    Types Of Toenail Fungus And Symptoms

    How to Tell if You Have a Toenail Fungus

    The symptoms of most fungal toenail infections are similar, says Dr. Zahn. The hallmark symptoms include nail discoloration, nail separation, brittleness, thickening of the nail, and sometimes pain.

    Yet, those symptoms are present in other conditions like psoriasis or from banging your toenail. With the symptoms so similar, its difficult to identify the type of fungal infection on your own.

    Your doctor or dermatologist may take a small sample of the debris beneath the nail, trim the nail, or scrape a tiny bit of skin to pinpoint the type of fungus.

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    What Are The Treatments For Toenail Fungus

    Toenail fungus is notoriously hard to cure. If over-the-counter fungal treatments have not worked, see your doctor. Treatment will depend on how severe the infection is and the specific type of fungi causing it.

    Your doctor may start by trimming your nail, removing debris from under the nail, and scaling away the dead nail layers. Then, treatment may involve the following:

    • Topical toenail fungus medication in the form of medicated nail polish or cream you apply to the nail. Some products are for daily use and others are once weekly. Treatment can take up to 18 months and is only suitable for mild infections. Thinning the nail with a file before application may be necessary to help the medicine penetrate the nail. Always sterilize nail tools after use. Topical medicines include amorolfine , ciclopirox , efinaconazole , and tavaborole .
    • Oral antifungal drugs you take by mouth include fluconazole , griseofulvin , itraconazole , and terbinafine . These drugs have a higher cure rate and work more quickly than topical products. Treatment generally takes up to 12 weeks. However, they carry a risk of liver toxicity, side effects, and drug interactions. You will need blood tests and frequent monitoring if your doctor prescribes these medications.
    • Combination therapy can be more effective than either topical or oral drugs alone.

    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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    See A Podiatrist For Toenail Fungus Treatment

    If youre uncomfortable with the appearance of your toes, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Professional, modern treatment methods are more effective at clearing up fungal infections than over the counter and home remedies.

    Tackling a fungal infection on your own could be difficult and frustrating. Over-the-counter creams are often not strong enough to treat infections appropriately, and more complex treatments arent available for consumer use. The toenail fungus doctors, or podiatrists, at Arizona Foot Doctors are qualified to deal with many foot and ankle issues, including toenail fungus, and are dedicated to making you feel confident and comfortable throughout the treatment process.

    After a gentle evaluation, our podiatrists will prescribe the most appropriate treatment for your situation, identify any underlying causes, and help you avoid future infections.

    Who Gets Toenail Fungal Infections

    How do I know if I have toenail fungus and what to do

    A fungus can invade the toenails of anyone at any age, but it is far more common in older adults. Once you hit 60, your chances of getting a toenail fungus increase to about 75 percent. The odds are higher because blood flow is reduced as we get older, which slows nail growth. Nails become more dry and brittle, causing them to crack.

    A fungus can enter through a break in the skin or under or beside the toenail. And quite frankly, toenails just get more difficult to reach and trim as our flexibility declines.

    Longer nails are more prone to trauma, so older adults who may have trouble trimming their nails are at risk for trauma and subsequent infection, says dermatologist Shari Lipner, MD, associate professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York.

    Read Also: How To Cure Fungus Between Toes

    How Do I Keep My Nail From Falling Off After An Injury

    Cover the nail with tape or an adhesive bandage until the nail has grown out enough to protect the finger or toe. If you trim off the detached nail, you will have less worry about the nail catching and tearing. If you leave the detached nail in place, it will eventually fall off when the new nail grows in.

    How Fungus Forms On Toenails

    Usually toenail infection develops when the nail or surrounding skin has a small crack or cut and the area is exposed to fungus in the environment.

    Warm, moist conditions allow fungus to grow. Walking barefoot in locker rooms or shared showers can increase your risk of coming in contact with fungus. Having sweaty feet or wearing non-breathable shoes can help the fungus take hold and spread.

    Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and a weak immune system can increase risk for toenail fungus.

    Its also more common in older adults. Up to half of adults over the age of 70 may have toenail fungus, according to the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. A previous toenail injury, psoriasis, hyperhidrosis, and smoking can also increase risk. Children are rarely affected.

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    Pack The Area With Dental Floss Or Cotton

    Mayo Clinic recommends tucking small bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under the edge of an ingrown toenail to encourage proper nail growth. Not every medical group agrees.

    According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, placing cotton under your nail may increase pain and allow harmful bacteria to thrive. Soaking the cotton or floss in alcohol before application may help reduce this risk.

    Can A Nail Fungal Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided

    How Effective Is Laser Therapy for Toenail Fungus?

    Avoid situations that expose you to a fungus. This includes walking barefoot in locker rooms and having wet hands and feet often. This might be a problem for people who work in restaurants or house cleaning. People in a family can get nail fungal infections at the same time. This happens when their immune systems arent able to fight off the infection. Or it could be the infection is spread when using the same towels. It is important to routinely clean your shower, tub, and bathroom to lower risk of fungal infection.

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    Toenail Fungus: What You Need To Know & Healing Options

    Sandal season isnt a celebrated time for everyone. If you have noticed your toenails arent looking as smooth and healthy as they used to, and you are too embarrassed to slip on your leather sandals this summer, perhaps there is something more serious going on.

    Toenail fungus often goes unnoticed, especially in the elderly, as most people may think its just part of the aging process. However, toenail fungus is quite a common infection and is prevalent among both young and older adults.

    This post looks at how to identify, treat, and prevent toenail fungus and how Yeargain Foot & Ankle can help you heal.

    What Are The Causes Of Toenail Fungus Infections

    Toenail fungal infections are caused by different microscopic organisms such as fungi. The most common of these organisms are dermatophytes. However, this type of infection may also be caused by yeasts and molds. The fungus may enter the body through cuts and cracks on the skin underneath the nail. Fungi thrive in a warm and moist environment which makes the confines of your closed-toe shoes the perfect environment to spread.

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    What Causes Toenail Fungus

    The most common cause of toenail infections is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. Molds and yeast can also cause nail infections.

    The human body normally has fungi present on the skin.

    However, fungi thrive in moist, warm environments where they can overpopulate and thats when an infection can develop.

    A toenail fungal infection happens when that overabundance of fungi gets in between the toenail and the nail bed.

    What Are The Signs Of Nail Fungus

    If I have toenail fungus and love pedicures, what do I do?

    If you get nail fungus, youre likely to see one or more of the following changes to your nails:

    • Part of a nail turns white, yellow, brown, or another color. At first, you may just see a spot of discoloration at the tip of your nail. Without treatment, this discoloration may spread, covering more of the nail.

    • Debris builds up under the nail.

    • A nail begins to lift up, so its no longer firmly attached to the finger or toe.

    • A nail turns white, and the surface of the nail may feel soft, dry, and powdery. The nail also thins, so you may be able to scrape off the nail.

    • Nails thicken and turn yellow or brown, often this affects all of the fingernails.

    • A nail splits or crumbles.

    Treatment is important

    Without treatment, the fungus can spread and damage more nails.

    Having nail fungus is usually painless. At least, its painless in the beginning. However, if you put off getting treatment, the fungus can grow. When the fungus worsens on toenails, wearing shoes can become painful.

    If you see any changes to a nail, you should see a board-certified dermatologist. When caught early, nail fungus may clear with treatment applied to the nail. As the fungus grows, it becomes more difficult to clear the infection.

    ImagesImages 1,2, and 3 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 70:918-23.

    Image 4 used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

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    Tips To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections

    Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help prevent a fungal infection of the nails. Taking good care of your nails by keeping them well trimmed and clean is a good way to prevent infections.

    Also avoid injuring the skin around your nails. If youre going to have damp or wet hands for an extended amount of time, you may want to wear rubber gloves.

    Other ways to prevent fungal infections of the nails include:

    • washing your hands after touching infected nails
    • drying your feet well after showering, especially between your toes
    • getting manicures or pedicures from trustworthy salons
    • avoiding being barefoot in public places
    • reducing your use of artificial nails and nail polish

    Products to help you avoid nail fungus

    If youre prone to excessive moisture around your fingernails or toenails, consider buying:

    With fungal nail infections, the main cause is typically

    • molds

    Certain behaviors and preexisting conditions that can affect your risk of nail fungus include:

    • old age

    There are many overlaps between nail fungus and nail cancer. Since its easy to mistake cancer of the nail for a fungal infection, you should see a doctor immediately to get a definitive diagnosis.

    See a doctor immediately if you suspect you have toenail fungus or subungual melanoma.

    Since the prognosis of subungual melanoma gets worse the longer it takes to diagnose, its better to be safe and get any possible symptoms checked out and cleared as soon as they appear.

    Continue To Treat Your Nail As Your Doctor Recommends

    Here at Strut Health, we treat stubborn toenail fungus with an expertly blended cream of topical antifungals, and steroids.

    Our cream is compounded with a proprietary DMSO base blend that helps the active ingredients penetrate deep into the nail. Treating toenail fungus is hard, but our cream takes the guesswork out of the situation.

    To see if this prescription toenail fungus medication is right for you, simply complete a questionnaire-based online doctor’s consultation.

    If our doctors find youâre a good candidate for this treatment, weâll ship your prescription right to your door.

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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.

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