What Is Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus?

Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus is quite a common medical condition in which there is development of whitish or yellow colored spots under the toenails. With time as the infection spreads and goes deep within the nail, there can be discoloration of the nail also observed and the nail may ultimately become thick and fall off. Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus can affect all the nails of the foot but usually only one nail is affected at a time. Since it is quite a common condition, mild forms of this condition do not require any form of treatment but if the infection becomes deeper or if that part of the foot becomes painful then you may need treatment to correct the condition. Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus is a recurrent condition and if proper foot care is not done then it may come again and again. This condition is also known by the name of onychomycosis.

Toenail Fungus

What Causes Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus?

Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus is usually caused by Dermatophyte Fungus. They can also be caused due to yeast and molds. Fungi are microorganisms which more often than not cause infections in the body, although there are some types of fungi which are useful as well. These organisms thrive in moist environments like swimming pools, showers, damp attics etc. These organisms can enter the body through cuts even if it may be an extremely small cut or bruise. They can also enter the body through the small space that is present between the nail and the nail bed. Since the toe region is the one that is separated from the outside environment due to being in shoes and due to the sweat that develops it becomes moist hence the toenails are most prone to fungal infections. Also, the blood flow to the toe region is less than other parts of the body hence it is difficult for the body to catch an infection early and fight against it.

What Are The Risk Factors For Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus?

Some of the factors which increase your risk of having Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus are:

Age: With a person becoming older the blood flow to the toe region becomes significantly less and moreover if the person has had increased exposure to fungi in the preceding years then it increases the risk of having Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus.

Hyperhidrosis: This is a condition in which an individual perspires excessively, including in the foot region which when being kept in a closed surface like a shoe for prolonged periods of time increases the chances of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus.

Sex: Sexual orientation of a person also plays a part in development of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus, as this condition is mostly seen in males.

Occupation: If an individual is working in an environment which is closed and damp and the hands and feet of the individual are constantly wet like in the fishing industry or housekeeping then it also increases the risk for Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus.

Foot Care: Walking barefoot in areas like swimming pools gymnasium etc. also increases the risk for development of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus.

Medical Conditions: If an individual has underlying medical conditions like diabetes or other conditions in which the immune system of the body is compromised then also there is a high likelihood of that individual developing Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus.

What Are The Symptoms Of Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus?

In cases of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus, the following can be seen:

  • Thickening of the toenails
  • The toenails become extremely fragile
  • The toenails become deformed
  • There is discoloration of the toenails
  • There may be separation of the nail from the nail bed.

How Is Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus Treated?

If Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus does not heal by local self care methods then the physician may start treatment by doing the following:

The physician will start by prescribing oral antifungal agents like Lamisil and Sporanox which are quite helpful in getting rid of the fungal infection and allows a new nail to grow without any chance of infection. The normal course of this medication is usually about 12 weeks but the effect of the medication can only be seen once the infected nail falls and new nail grows. Coming to the recovery period for Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus, normally, it may take up to three to four months for the infection to completely go away. This form of treatment may be successful but they come with their inherent side effects which may range from skin rashes to even liver damage in some cases. Hence it is recommended that the best approach towards treatment of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus is a combination of oral and topical antifungal medications. These medications are not given to those individuals who have a history of liver dysfunctions.

Apart from the above mentioned medications, the physician may also recommend a medicated nail polish which is available in the market called Penlac. This nail polish is applied on the infected nail and its surrounding areas once or twice a day. After about a week of application, clean the polish using alcohol and then start all over again. This may need to be done for at least 12 months.

The physician may also prescribe nail creams which can be applied on the infected nails to get rid of the infection.

If all the above methods are not successful in treating the condition and the pain is intolerable then the physician may recommend surgical removal of the nail. Once the infected nail is removed a new nail will grow in its place which will be non-infected.

Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus

Below mentioned are some natural remedies to get rid of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus which can be easily done at home:

Get Rid of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus With Apple Cider Vinegar: This is a useful product in killing bacteria and fungi. To use this you need to mix equal proportions of apple cider vinegar and water and soak the infected foot in it for about half an hour daily. Dry the toenail after soaking it and you will notice in a few weeks that the infection has started to improve.

Get Rid of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus With Tea Tree Oil: This is also a form of antiseptic which has inbuilt properties to kill bacteria and fungi. To use this, you need to mix a few drops of this oil along with coconut oil and then apply it gently on the affected toenail. Leave it on for about 15 minutes and then gently scrub the nail. Keep doing this at least thrice a day for best results

Get Rid of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus With Baking Soda: This is by far the most common ingredient found in almost all kitchens. Not many may know this but baking soda has good antiseptic properties and helps in killing harmful bacteria and fungi hence this can also be used for Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus. To use this, mix about half a cup of baking soda to a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide and about a half a cup of Epsom salt and then add about four cups of water to it. After making a solution of it mix a quarter cup of white vinegar to it. Once prepared, soak the affected toenail to in this solution for about 15 minutes and then clean the toe with water. Within a few weeks you will notice definite improvement.

Get Rid of Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus With Listerine Mouthwash: This may be a mouthwash but it has also been shown to be helpful in treating Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus. Mix white vinegar and Listerine mouthwash in equal proportion and soak the affected foot in the solution for about half an hour. Then dry the area completely and in a few weeks you will notice positive results.

What Are The Complications Of Toenail Fungus Or Toe Fungus?

If Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus becomes severe and is left untreated it may become severely painful and may damage the nails permanently. Also, if the infection spreads beyond the nails then it can lead to many other complications, especially if you have a compromised immune system or are suffering from diabetes as due to such conditions there is decreased flow to the toe region and even minor infection like Toenail Fungus or Toe Fungus may cause serious complications.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: April 6, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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