How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Nail Fungus
To find out if a patient has nail fungus, a dermatologist examines your nails and nearby skin. Its important to check the skin because the fungus can spread. You may already have a skin infection caused by fungus like athletes foot.
To get rid of the infection, you will need to treat all infected areas.
Before giving you the diagnosis, your dermatologist may also take some samples. Collecting a bit of debris from beneath a nail, trimming off part your nail, or scraping off a bit of skin can be very helpful. In a lab, these samples can be examined under a microscope to find out whats causing the problem.
Are you hiding an infected nail with nail polish?
Be sure to ask your dermatologist if you can wear nail polish while treating nail fungus.
What To Expect From A Toenail Fungus Soak
While some toenail fungus infections are easier to treat than others, we should be clear that you shouldn’t solely rely on a toenail fungus soak to kill fungus permanently.
“I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that soaks will help in the treatment of fungal infection of the nails,” says dermatologist Rajani Katta, MD, who serves as volunteer clinical faculty at Baylor College of Medicine and McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston.
However, a soak may help ease symptoms such as itching and burning and help stave off bacteria. It could take weeks or several months of consistent soaks to see improvementâor they might not work at all.
Be mindful that although your toes look and feel better, the fungus could still be alive and lingering and can spread to other toes and areas of the foot.
One caveat: if you have diabetes and notice changes in your toenails or feetâthink redness, swelling, a color change, or a black vertical streak on your toenailâdon’t try a foot soak. In fact, people with diabetes should check in with a doctor if they notice any foot-related changes at all.
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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What Other Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Fungal Nails
Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:
Why Toenail Fungus Is So Stubborn
A fungal infection in your toenails is typically caused by a tiny organism called dermatophyte fungus. This type of fungus thrives in warm, moist environments think public swimming pools or locker rooms where it can be easily transferred between people.
Once you pick up the infection, it can spread fairly quickly, largely because you keep your feet inside shoes, creating the perfect environment for fungal growth.
Making matters worse, your toenails are fairly thick and made up of many layers, which means the fungus can set up shop deep within these layers, making it more difficult to target. In moderate-to-severe cases, the fungus can even get into the matrix of your nail, which means any new toenail growth is already infected.
Rounding out the list of hurdles is the fact that your toes dont benefit from great circulation, so your immune system is less likely to detect and fight off the foreign invaders.
What all of this amounts to is that many people think that a toe fungal infection is coming back when it never really went away in the first place.
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What Is The Treatment For Fungal Nails
Oral antifungal therapy has a high cure rate, depending on the medication. It can take nine to 12 months to see if it has worked or not, because that is how long it takes for the nail to grow out. Even when therapy works, the fungus may come back. Currently, an oral antifungal therapy is considered the best treatment for toenail fungus because of higher cure rates and shorter treatment duration compared to topical therapy.
Prescription oral medications that are effective against nail fungus include the following:
There are several innovative treatments that are still being tested:
- Laser therapy or uses application of light-activated agents onto the nail followed by shining light of a proper wavelength on the nail.
- Use of electrical current to help absorption of topical antifungal medications into the nail: This is also called iontophoresis.
- Use of a special nail lacquer that changes the micro-climate of the nail to make it inhospitable for the fungus to grow: If this works, it may be an inexpensive way to treat this problem in the future.
One way to definitively get rid of toenail fungus is by surgery. Surgical treatment of onychomycosis involves nail removal. However, this often only provides temporary relief, and recurrence is common unless additional antifungal medication is simultaneously used. However, surgical removal may be warranted when the affected nail is associated with other factors such as trauma and or infection.
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What About Bleach Baths
Bleach baths are an approach dermatologists may recommend for treating skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and recurrent Staphylococcus infections on the skin. These involve mixing a very small amount of bleach in bath water typically a half cup of bleach to a full-sized bathtub of water.
While its true that bleach baths may temporarily kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses, the effects arent long-lasting and arent likely to treat an existing toenail fungal infection.
How Do You Get A Fungal Nail Infection
Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of the fungi that cause athlete’s foot infecting the nails.
These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.
You’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
- don’t keep your feet clean and dry
- wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
- walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
- have damaged your nails
- have a weakened immune system
- have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes, psoriasis or peripheral arterial disease
Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this if you have an infection.
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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.
What Causes Toenail Fungus
It is very unlikely that a few exposures to an unclean environment will cause a fungal infection. Walking barefoot once or twice in a public shower will not generally spread the infection. Similarly, it is also unlikely that a single visit to a pedicurist will cause the infection. Lengthy exposure to a contaminated environment is often required in order to contract the fungal infection although individuals may be more susceptible to fungal infections than others.
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What Tests Might I Have For Toenail Fungus
Your provider will probably take a small sample from underneath your nail to further analyze it. Viewing the cells under a microscope can confirm a toenail fungus diagnosis. If the initial test is negative, a scraping can be sent to see if the fungus grows out in a culture. It also helps your provider identify the type of fungus.
Potential Safe Uses For Bleach
The myth that bleach could treat toenail fungus may be less related to topical applications and more about using bleach to clean other items that could potentially infect the toenails, such as nail clippers or files.
Shoes and socks exposed to toenail fungus can be washed with bleach. Follow the bleach products directions for your washer and laundry load size. You can also use bleach-based solutions to clean areas where fungus may grow in your home, such as your shower tiles, bath mats, or floor.
Now that you know bleach isnt an effective toenail fungus treatment, lets look at some options that are.
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Best Spices To Cure Toenail Fungus In 2021
Treating toenail fungus at home has always been effective. However, it depends on the type of remedies, and the ingredients or tools used. A slight change can change the effect, and the time required for the complete cure.
In many countries, people mostly rely on spices for the treatment of different types of skin infections, including the toenail infection. These spices are far more effective and active they are known to cure different aspects of a persons health.
If you also wish to cure the toenail fungus at home, then we are here to guide you, and help you choose the most effective methods. As there would be a different technique and mixture to use each particular type of spice.
There are more than five spices that can cure the toenail fungus, but here we will only highlight the five most useful and easily available spices. You can try any of these. However, before you do so, do not forget to check your overall health conditions.
Suppose you are a diabetic patient, then using some spices might not do any good. It can harm your pancreases, or imbalance the sugar level. So it is imperative to do a detailed analysis of the effects of that spice before using it for the toenail fungus treatment.
Preventive Measures To Check Toenail Fungus
- Dont share your socks and shoes.
- After touching infected nail, wash your hands properly.
- Make sure that the tools, you are using for the purpose of pedicure or manicure, are sterilized.
- Wear sandals or shoes in public pools and places.
- Dont bite the nails.
- Make use of anti-fungal powders or sprays.
- Instead of trimming your nails with your fingers, use a clean nail clipper.
- Change your socks daily.
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Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Nail Fungus
Although some people may refer to these alternative treatments as quack science, there appears to be a little more to these homemade remedies since many individuals have used them to cure their conditions. However, more research still needs to be conducted on the success rate of home remedies for nail fungus.
Some common and supposedly effective alternative treatments include:
According to Dr. Josh Axe of the Exodus Health Center, apple cidar vinegar not only helps to soothe sunburns, balance pH in the body, manage blood sugar levels, and aid in weight loss, its also an ingredient that contains anti-fungal properties. As such, many sufferers of fungal nail infection have now turned to this healthy food to cure their conditions.
The acidic properties of apple cidar vinegar prevent nail fungus from spreading. At the same time, apple cidar vinegar helps to get rid of dead skin cells while killing bacteria and fungi.
Simply mix it with water in equal parts then soak the infected nails for up to 30 minutes in the solution. Repeat this process daily and pat dry the infected nails after soaking.
Another study conducted by Russian researchers showed that a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide had been instrumental in killing off fungus at the radioactive Chernobyl site.
For this remedy, one should simply apply lemon juice on the infected nail for about 30 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
Take A Full Medical History
“The first step is to take a history of the problem,” says podiatrist , DPM, CEO of HappyFeet LLC. “In other words, I want to know how long have you had this and what previous treatment you’ve had.” A podiatrist needs to understand the extent of the problem and any other medical factors which may influence their choice of toenail fungus treatment. A full medical history is also important because the first line of defense is usually oral medication, but this treatment can have side effects for people with underlying health issues. Make sure you reveal everythinghere are 14 things to never lie to your doctor about.
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Tips For Prevention Of Fungal Nails
Nail fungus causes only 50% of abnormal-appearing nails. It can be hard to tell the difference between the different causes of discolored nails . Onychomycosis is often not treated. Reasons to receive treatment include
No one knows where a specific person catches the fungus, as it is everywhere. However, since the fungus does thrive in warm moist areas , there are certain areas one should avoid or use with caution. Shower floors, locker rooms, and swimming pools are suspected of being sources of the fungus, although there are no studies proving this fact. Nail polish and acrylic nails also make the nail less “breathable” and make the nail more susceptible to fungal infection. Fungi are everywhere — in the air, the dust, and the soil. Hygienic measures such as spraying socks and footgear sound sensible, and perhaps these measures can even help a little bit. However, avoiding tight, nonbreathing shoes or steering clear of athletic facility floors may very well be the best prevention available. Daily washing of the feet and drying between the toes can help to prevent nail fungus. The fungi carried on the coats of pets, like cats and dogs, don’t often cause nail fungus. Wearing white socks does not help.
How To Use Them
A person interested in trying a blend of essential oils can buy the oils online or from a health food store. Mix the oil with a carrier oil before applying the mixture to the affected nails.
Ozonized oils are oils infused with ozone gas. Examples of oils that are available in ozonized form include sunflower oil and olive oil.
According to , ozonized oils show positive effects similar to a traditional medication called terbinafine cream in treating one type of fungus. In this study, the researchers used rabbits to test the effectiveness of the treatment.
Another study carried out on 400 people tested how ozonized oils affected fungal infections. In this 2011 study , researchers used ozonized sunflower oil to treat toenail fungus.
Their results indicated that ozonized oils cured up to 90.5 percent of the total infections with only a 2.8 percent relapse rate after 1 year. The researchers concluded the ozonized sunflower oil works more effectively than ketoconazole cream, which is an antifungal medication.
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Treatment Options For Nail Fungus
Most of my conversation is usually discussing medical therapy, so things that are available by prescription only. And those come in two main forms, which are topical antifungal medications, and then oral antifungal medications. There are other surgical or procedural options, so you can remove nails as well. And then there’s starting to be more interest in technologies like lasers for nail fungus.
Protect Your Feet In Public
You can lock down your home against fungus rather easily, but the world is another matter. Fungus thrives in warm, damp, moist environments, and there are plenty of them out there with a lot of foot traffic.
If you are going to high risk areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and public pools, you need to keep your feet protected. A pair of sandals oreven bettershower shoes will provide a good amount of cover in the worst of it.
Of course, wash your feet well after your time in a shower room or pool, and make sure they are fully dry before you put socks and shoes back on.
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