Toenail fungus is also known as onychomycosis. It is very similar to athlete’s foot, only in place of affecting the feet or the gap between two toes, it affects your toenails. It is a very commonly occurring fungal infection.(1)
Is Toenail Fungus Painful And Is It Curable?
Toenail fungus begins with a yellow or white spot under your toenail or fingernail. It spreads over time and can cause the whole nail to discolour. It may also cause thickening of the affected nail and make it crumble on touch. Toenail fungus can affect more than one nail.(2)
It may usually be not painful, and the condition may go unnoticed for days due to absence of pain. This may result in quick spreading of the condition and may cause pain. If left untreated, the toenail may become completely white, yellow, green or even black. It may completely thicken and may become hard to trim. It may also become so brittle that it crumbles upon simple touching. Or it may start to curl upwards or downwards and may even start to get loosened from the nail bed.(1)
If these infections go unnoticed or left untreated, they may cause severe pain when any pressure is applied to the affected area. Further, if it gets worse, it may even cause difficulty in walking.(1)
Is Toenail Fungus Curable?
Toenail fungus can be difficult to treat at times. Self- care strategies usually work when the condition is at a beginning stage. Over the counter medicines and treatments may provide relief to a certain extent. But, beyond a certain level, these measures do not help in giving any significant relief from the condition. Treatment usually depends on how far the condition has progressed and also what kind of fungus is responsible for causing it. You may end up spending months to get the desired results; having said that, it is still possible that you get affected by a repeat infection even after your condition has cured.(2)
Some measures can be taken to help cure the toenail fungus. The treatment may comprise of oral antifungal drugs or topical antifungal solutions or a combination of both.
- Oral antifungal drugs are the most commonly prescribed form of treatment. Examples include itraconazole, terbinafine etc.
- However, even with this method it may be months before you see any significant results. The recovery rate is even poor in people above the age of 65.
- There may also be some unpleasant side effects caused by antifungal drugs. These may include a minor condition like a skin rash or a major one like liver damage
- Doctors prefer not to prescribe these medicines in people with liver problems, congestive heart failure or those on other medications
- Regular blood tests may be required to check the effects of these medicines on your body(2)
- Topical applications may include antifungal nail polish or creams.
- The medicated nail polish is to be applied once a day for 7 days on the infected nail and the nearby skin. Reapplications on the same part will cause layers to form after 7 days these layers are wiped off with alcohol and new coats are applied. This may be needed for even an year
- Medicated creams are to be applied to the infected nail after soaking the nails. They will penetrate inside the nail and work. Thinning the nails may be helpful for this to work.(2)
Surgery may be an option in severe cases, or if the nail bed has become loose. The medicines can be then applied directly to the infection, to get better results.(2)
Toenail fungus may not be painful usually but, it may hurt at times, especially when left untreated. Toenail fungus is difficult to cure. Even after it has been cured, repeat infections are a common occurrence.
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