What is Toenail Fungus?
What is Toenail Fungus? Toe Nail fungus is a common condition that causes the appearance of white or yellow dots at the bottom of the fingernails of the fingers or toes. Nails may change color, thicken, and crack at the edges if nail fungus infections spread deeper.
Conditions that also have other names onikomikosis and tinea unguium can attack more than one nail, but rarely attack the entire nail. Some factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing nail fungus are:
- Have minor skin or nail injuries.
- Diabetes, blood flow disorders, immune system disorders, or Down syndrome.
- Walk barefoot in public areas, such as a swimming pool, fitness center and public bathroom.
- Has ringworm (tinea pedis).
- Wearing socks and shoes that do not have ventilation holes and do not absorb sweat.
- Male sex.
- Works in a wet and damp environment.
- A lot of sweating.
- Elderly. The older a person’s age, the less blood flow, the growth of the nails slower, and mushroom exposure becomes longer.
In cases of severe nail fungus, permanent damage can occur in the nails and cause pain. For people with diabetes, where there is a decrease in blood circulation and nerve sensitivity in the legs, the risk for the spread of infection is very high. Therefore, the slightest injury or infection, including fungal nail infections, should be treated promptly.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
A person may experience nail fungus if the signs below occur on his nails:
- Dull and not bright.
- Blackish color (due to dirt buildup under the nail).
- Brittle or cracked.
Infected fungus nails can also be separated from the nail bed, so the patient will feel the pain on the tip of the toenails or fingers. In addition, the nails can also emit an unpleasant odor.
Causes of Nailfungus
Mushrooms are microscopic organisms that do not need sunlight to live on. Generally fungal nail infections are caused by dermatophyte fungus, but yeast can also be another cause.
Mushrooms thrive in a humid and warm environment. Mushrooms can also enter into the skin through a very small incision wound, and can cause problems if the nails are often exposed to warm and damp conditions.
Nail fungus can be transmitted from one person to another, and not related to poor hygiene.
Two things that cause toenail fungus are more common in toe nails than finger nails are:
- The circulation of blood in the toes is less than in the fingers, so the immune system that flows with the blood, is slower in detecting and stopping the infection in the area.
- Toenails are more often in dark, warm, and humid environments, because they wear socks or shoes.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Toenail Fungus
To diagnose patients suspected of having nail fungus, the first thing doctors do is to perform a physical examination of the patient’s nails. If the diagnosis is still not confirmed by physical examination, the doctor will take samples of skin flakes under the nail for further study in the laboratory.
For nail fungus, the commonly used drugs are in the form of:
- Nail polish remedy. Ciclopirox which is an antifungal nail polish remedy can be given by a doctor with a dose once a day. Duration of use of this drug can reach one year.
- Nail cream remedy. Anti-fungal nail cream will advise the doctor to be smeared on infected nails after soaking.
- Oral antifungal drugs. Doctors will usually also prescribe oral antifungal drugs, such as terbinafine and itraconazole, which can help the new nail layer grow slowly and replace the old fungus that has been infected with the fungus.
If medicines do not work effectively in dealing with nail fungus, other treatments that can be performed by a doctor are:
- Nail removal. If the infection from the nail fungus is too severe, the doctor will suggest the removal of the nail, so that new nails can replace the infected nails.
- Laser therapy and light. This therapy may cure the condition of the patient’s nails, along with drug delivery or not. But this type of therapy is not widely available and expensive.
In general, yeast infections in toenails are more difficult to treat than in fingernails, because the growth of toe nails is slower.
ToeNail Fungus Prevention
To prevent the development of nail fungus, apply the following healthy habits daily:
- Keep your nails short and dry.
- Wear rubber gloves, to protect hands from excessive water exposure.
- Avoid using old shoes.
- Do not cut or scrape the skin around the nail.
- Use an antifungal spray or powder, on the feet and inside of the shoe.
- Choose shoes that can reduce the moisture of the foot.
- Avoid barefoot in public areas.
- Wear socks that absorb sweat.
- Wash your hands and feet regularly.