What Causes Fungal Nails And What Are Some Of The Risk Factors
In normal, healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by fungus that is caught from moist, wet areas. Communal showers, such as those at a gym or swimming pools, are common sources. Going to nail salons that use inadequate sanitization of instruments in addition to living with family members who have fungal nails are also risk factors. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting, sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having athlete’s foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. Repetitive trauma also weakens the nail, which makes the nail more susceptible to fungal infection.
Elderly people and people with certain underlying disease states are also at higher risk. Anything that impairs your immune system can make you prone to getting infected with the fungus. These include conditions such as AIDS, diabetes, cancer, psoriasis, or taking any immunosuppressive medications like steroids.
How Can I Help Prevent Nail Fungus
- Dry your feet with a towel or hair dryer after you bathe.
- Do not wear tight-fitting shoes or shoes that pinch your toes. Avoid shoes made from rubber or plastic.
- Wear socks that absorb moisture. This includes socks make of wool, nylon, or polypropylene. Do not wear cotton socks. Change your socks if they are damp from sweat or your feet get wet. Put on dry, clean socks every day.
- Do not go barefoot in locker rooms or public showers.
- Do not use nail polish or artificial nails such as acrylic or gel nails.
- Wear gloves that are waterproof if you work with water.
Conditions That May Look Like Toenail Fungus
Several health conditions can affect the appearance of your toenails and may be mistaken for toenail fungus.
Psoriasis Psoriasis can cause red, scaly patches on the skin. More than half of people with skin psoriasis also have it on their nails. Toenails and fingernails affected by psoriasis may be thick, discolored, crumbly, or loose. Some people will have nail changes with psoriasis, and if it affects the matrix , then these changes are permanent, says Sheth.
Skin Cancer A discolored spot underneath a toenail may be a sign of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Melanoma under a toenail usually looks like a brown or black streak or may appear similar to a bruise. Although this isnt common, its also not rare, says Sheth. Her advice: Its always good to check it out.
Darier Disease This genetic disorder typically causes yellowish, wartlike blemishes on the body. However, some people with Darier disease also have fingernail or toenail irregularities, such as nails that are marked with red and white streaks, according to Genetics Home Reference. Sheth notes, however, that shes never had a biopsy come back with a diagnosis of Darier disease.
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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
What Causes Toenail Fungus
Even though its not sandal season, its still nice to have beautiful nails. If you notice yellowed or thickened nails, resist the temptation to cover up the issues with nail polish. Yellow, crumbly, or thickened nails can be a sign of a toenail fungus.
Sometimes a minor fungal infection can be cleared with over-the-counter fungal remedies, but toenail fungus is often tricky to eliminate. If you notice the signs of a toenail fungus, dont wait to address the issue. Delaying treatment can increase your risk of re-infection and pesky complications like nail loss.
Dr. David J. Kaplan of FootCare Specialists, Inc. in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California, explains what causes toenail fungus, how we can treat it, and how you can help avoid getting the condition.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus is a common condition that can affect anybody. Nail fungus can also affect multiple nails at the same time, making it hard to cure with home remedies. Dr. Cory A. Gaiser, a board-certified physician of internal medicine and aesthetic specialist, can help treat this condition with laser treatment. Schedule a consultation with New Body Aesthetics in Cincinnati, OH to learn more about how nail fungus can affect you.
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How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus With Home Remedies
While some may scoff at the good old home remedy, there is something to be said for the tried and true treatments handed down from our grandparents. Toenail fungus, like many other issues, is not a new problem and it stands to reason there were workable solutions before over the counter medications were available. So, lets look first at how to get rid of toenail fungus with home remedies. This list is far from being complete but the chosen remedies illustrate well this approach.
Baking Soda and Borax Both of these ingredients have been available from local retailers for a generation or better. They are used in a variety of home recipes including a treatment for toenail fungus. Mix equal parts of these powders with just enough water to create a paste, soak your feet to soften the nail and then apply baking powder borax paste to toenails.
Peroxide Good for cleaning a multitude of scrapes and mishaps, hydrogen peroxide is also a great home remedy treatment for nail fungus. Toenail fungus is anaerobic, which means it is not overly fond of oxygen, making peroxide a natural treatment option. Simply soak your nails twice per day in a 3% solution for at least two weeks. You can also brush the solution directly on your nail, full strength if you prefer.
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Fungal Nail Infection Complications
It can take a year or more for your nails to look like they did before the infection. And you may continue to have problems:
- The fungus can come back.
- Your nails may be permanently discolored or misshapen.
- The infection may spread to other parts of your body.
Itâs especially important to take care of a fungal nail infection if you have diabetes. Youâre at greater risk of getting a serious skin infection.
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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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- 1. Distal Subungual Onychomycosis
DSO is the first most common kind of fungal nail infection. It affects the skin of the nail bed and penetrates the nail bed.
This fungus starts spreading from the end of the nail bed. Another common sign you have Distal Subungal Onychomycosis is the nail may start to lift up from the nail bed.
Symptoms of Distal subungual onychomycosis DSO
- Discolouration of nail
- Flaky, rough and patchy skin
There are many common over-the-counter medicines and ointments to treat this fungal infection.
- 2. White Superficial Onychomycosis
WSO is the second most common type of nail fungal infection. This fungus can be treated easily with the help of home remedies or prescription drugs and topical creams.
White Superficial Onychomycosis only affects the top layer of the nails.
Symptoms of White Superficial Onychomycosis WSO
- Affects the top layer of the nail
- Affects the entire surface, forming white spots and chalky powder
- Results in crumbling of nail, nail surfaces and nailbed.
Treatments involve the removal of the nail and the application of various antifungal creams and ointments.
- 3. Proximal Subungal Onychomycosis
PSO is not a very common type of nail fungal infection. It affects people who have weak immunity or have an autoimmune condition such as HIV or Hashimotos disease. PSO can often result from injuries that are hard to treat.
Symptoms of Proximal Subungal Onychomycosis
- 4. Candida Onychomycosis
Symptoms of Candida Onychomycosis:
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What Is A Nail Fungus Infection And How Does It Develop
Fungus infection is caused due to overgrowth of fungi in a body part or surface areas. It could affect any part of your body.
The fungus can normally affect nails, scalp and genitals. Talking about nail fungus, it is usually caused by the overgrowth of fungi in the nails or on the nails.
Most nail fungal infections develop due to the moisture and warm environment we provide by weaning footwear constantly or due to weak immunity.
Fungi can thrive and develop if we dont take proper care and maintain good hygiene of the feet, including toenails.
Recognize Nail Fungus In The Early Stages
An infection should be treated early as soon as the first symptoms of nail fungus can be recognized.
If you are not sure whether it is nail fungus, you should consult a doctor. When treating nail fungus, you shouldnt lose any time, as it is very tedious.
A healthy fingernail or toenail is light pink and shiny, the nails surface is smooth, and the shape is even.
The nail fungus attacks the nail and feeds on the keratin of the nail. For this reason, one of the first signs is a slight change in the color of the nail .
Most of the time, the person concerned hardly perceives any symptoms or pain.
The nail often loses its typical shine at the beginning of the infection and becomes dull.
The picture above shows the typical course of onychomycosis very well.
In the initial stage, the fungal nail infection often begins on the front or side of the nail and spreads from there towards the middle towards the nail root.
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Symptoms Of Fungal Nail Infection
The first signs of a fungal nail infection are usually perceptible changes to the appearance of the infected nail. It is uncommon for an infected nail to cause severe pain or permanent disfigurement, but this does occur in some cases. If left untreated, fungal nail infections can cause difficulties with walking, exercising or manual tasks such as typing. The main symptoms of onychomycosis include the nail becoming:
- Lifted away from the nail bed
- Mildly painful
These symptoms could also indicate that an individual is suffering from nail psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin disease which can affect the skin under the nail. Nail psoriasis is more common in the fingernails than the toenails and can co-occur with fungal infections of the nail. If you think you may be experiencing the first signs of nail psoriasis or a fungal nail infection, get a free symptom assessment by downloading the Ada app.
Good to know:In people with diabetes, fungal toenail infections can increase the likelihood of developing ulceration and other complications, so medical attention should always be sought if a fungal nail infection is suspected.
What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus
The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan thats customized to you.
Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.
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Is Cellulitis Contagious
Cellulitis usually doesnt spread from person to person. It is possible to catch a bacterial skin infection if you have an open cut on your skin that touches skin that has an active infection.
If you do develop cellulitis from a transmitted infection, it could be dangerous if you dont treat it in a timely manner. This is why its important to tell your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms of cellulitis.
Complications of cellulitis can be severe if left untreated. Some complications can include:
- severe tissue damage
Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose cellulitis just by looking at your skin. A physical exam might reveal:
- swelling of the skin
- redness and warmth of the affected area
- swollen glands
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may want to monitor the affected area for a few days to see if the discoloration and swelling spread. In some cases, your doctor may take blood or a sample of the wound to test for bacteria.
Causes Of Toenail Fungus
Your toenails are frequently being exposed to the pathogen that causes fungal infections.
In fact, fungus and bacteria can be found almost anywhere, from public pools and locker rooms to the inside of your own shoes warm, damp, and dark places are the perfect environment for fungus to thrive. And when it finds a home in which to fester, the fungus begins to damage the keratin in the nail and, in severe cases, even cause debilitating pain.
However, fungal toenails can also develop in other ways in some cases, the fungus is contracted after an initial injury to the nail bed. Something as simple as a stubbed toe or an ingrown toenail can make the area more susceptible to the development of this condition.
In other cases, toenail fungus is the result of other underlying conditions that may contribute to a person developing infections in general. A good example of this is diabetes if you are living with diabetes, then you are already at a higher risk of infection, so when fungi comes into the picture, it is likely to take hold of the nail quite quickly.
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What Are The Earliest Signs And Symptoms Of A Nail Fungal Infection
The first sign of a nail fungal infection is discoloration. Typically, it begins with simple white spots or streaks growing on the nail. This sign can be confusing because it can also be dismissed as a scratch. If you cant recall your nails being injured or getting hit, be wary that this may be the beginning of a nail fungal infection.
In some occasions, these spots may be black in color. Others may only think this might be build up dried blood. Then again, causing this injury should initially be painful. If it is dried up blood, you should feel uncomfortable pressing on the nail. If not, then this may also signify the onset of an infection.
After some time, the nails structure begins to suffer, causing it to be thickened, brittle, and crumbly. The shape and texture may also change. Deformity is present and the surface of the nail becomes rough.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Subungual Melanoma
Diagnosing and treating subungual melanoma is much more involved.
Once your doctor performs the initial assessment and determines you might have subungual melanoma, theyll commonly suggest a nail biopsy.
A nail biopsy is the primary diagnostic tool available for making a definitive diagnosis. A dermatologist or nail specialist will remove some or all of the nail for examination.
If theres a diagnosis of cancer, depending on the severity and how early it was found, treatment can include:
- surgery to remove the affected nail
- amputation of the knuckles of the finger or toe
- amputation of the entire finger or toe
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What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus can cause many symptoms but usually starts as a white or yellow spot underneath your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes untreated, the nail will continue to discolor, thicken, and may start to crumble at the edges. Your nails may also change shape, smell foul, and may even develop a dark color due to debris. If you think you may have nail fungus, contact New Body Aesthetics in Cincinnati, OH to learn how Dr. Gaiser can help diagnose and treat nail fungus.
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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