Posts Tagged ‘toenail fungus’
What You Need To Know About Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus infections are all caused by a fairly common set of conditions that can affect up to 12% of the American population. A fungus is a living organism that enjoys dark, damp places. Because of this, most people get a fungal nail infection in their toes. It does sometimes occur on fingernails, but as the feet offer a much more hospitable environment, that is the most sought after area for these little life-forms. The fungus can live along side the nail, or burrow underneath the nail. There are several factors that determine where the infection is actually located, two of which are the progression and severity of the infection.
Doctors have noticed that a the beginning of an occurrence, it is most likely that the fungus lives along side the nail and gradually works its way underneath the nail to the nail bed as the infection progresses. Early symptoms of a fungal nail infection include a white or yellowish spot on the nail. As pain or discomfort are not common at this stage of infection, most people don’t notice the problem until it has progressed further.
As the infection develops, things become a bit more noticeable, even if these changes happen slowly. The nail dulls and gradually becomes yellowed and sometimes the toenail changes its shape. This is caused by the thickening of the nail and potential crumbling at the edges as it becomes more brittle and frail. The thick, yellowing, ridged nail is the trademark of the condition. This is when people tend to feel discomfort from the infection, sometimes caused by the nail separating from the nail bed.
If you allow this condition to progress sufficiently that your toenail separates from the nail bed, exposing the soft skin below, it is possible that this can result in further, and more serious, infection. If you see pus oozing from your toe, or if there is a bad odor when you take off your sock, it is now time to go see your doctor, immediately.
The myth about the toenail fungus microorganism is that it is only found in dirty places. Much like its cousin, the mushroom, this microorganism is happy to breed wherever and whenever it can. If its living conditions are correct, it will be there and will inevitably come into contact with hands and feet that it will send its spores onto to continue increasing the population. This is a fungus that everyone comes into contact with daily. Infection occurs when you give the fungus an environment in which it can thrive.
The medical community refers to this particular fungus as dermatophytes. While there are other causes of nail fungus infection, including yeast and mold, dermatophytes are the most common culprit.
There are things that may make a person more susceptible to toenail fungus, such as:
- An unhealthy immune system
- Peripheral artery disease
- Trauma to the foot, especially if the toenail has been damaged
- Abnormal skin pH
- Poor hygiene
- Previous fungal nail infections
It is unlikely that a fungal nail infection will become life threatening or debilitating. However they can cause pain and discomfort as well as affect a person’s self esteem because of the appearance of the nail. Because treating toenail fungus can be difficult, doing your best to prevent infection is the most effective cure. If you are concerned that you have an infected toenail, consult with your health care provider. Between the two of you, the state of your foot health can be determined and a course of action can be enacted.
How Can I Permanently Cure My Toenail Fungus?
Doctors tend to shy away from the word “cure” when referring to toenail fungus because it is not an easy thing to do. We have become a very busy society that believes popping a pill will take care of everything. Unfortunately that is not the case with toenail fungus. Onychomycosis, the medical term for toenail fungus is hard to cure because the treatment regimen is very long and can be quite involved. Most kinds of fungus are able to lie dormant for a long period so people will go through treatment and get positive results, only to find that the infection returns. Curing toenail fungus permanently is a possibility, it just take work and patience.
Several factors must be taken into account when examining your chances of curing toenail fungus. First is how far along your toenail fungal infection is. If you can catch it early, you stand a better chance of eliminating it entirely. As a fungal infection progresses, it goes from the skin surrounding the toenail into and under the toenail, where it becomes much harder to eradicate. Second is your own level of commitment. Treating toenail fungus is much more involved than just taking a pill. The idea is to create a hostile environment for the fungus so that they die off. This may involve washing your feet several times a day with a special soap and then donning clean socks each time. Yes, this is a lot of work (and extra laundry) but if you wish to control and end the toenail fungal infection, you will need to follow all of your doctor’s instructions as well as educate yourself on how to avoid recurrence.
The most unfortunate part about curing toenail fungus is that the statistics are so out of whack on actual success because so many people get frustrated part way through their cure and give up, or they miss a day or two and get pushed back by two weeks. This negates the outcome of the studies that have been done, or at least makes the conclusion “unknown”. If you are going to treat your toenail fungus, you need to address all of the problems and be willing to put in the time and effort it will take to achieve a successful result.
Oral prescription medication
If you and your doctor decide that the oral prescription medication is the way to go, ask about helping the process along by using a natural topical antifungal like Tea Tree Oil as part of your healing regimen. Giving your body help from both the inside and the outside can work in your favor. The goal behind combining your efforts is to permanently eradicate the fungi living off of you. This combination of efforts will take effort on your part in maintaining a healthy for you/not healthy for the fungus environment.
The biggest barrier to a cure for toenail fungus for most people is the amount of time and work that go into treatment of this disease. Washing your feet and applying medication 2-3 times a day as well as doing extra laundry to make sure your socks are clean and finding shoes that allow your feet to breath will become stressful. You must remember that missing one day of treatment will undo the last four you worked so hard on as it only takes the fungus one day to re-establish themselves. If you can stick to the program, with the help of your doctor, you can permanently end your toenail fungus problem.
Easily Applied Home Nail Fungus Remedies
Having unattractive toenails is embarrassing and even humiliating. There are many ways to solve this incredibly common problem.
How Does My Nail Become Infected?
Toenails come into contact with microorganisms that get onto the skin, the nail sheath and underneath the nail to the nail bed. Any and all of these places can easily become a hotbed (literally) for infection. Once you have contracted a fungal infection, it can be very difficult to cure.
As these microorganisms are fungal spores, they thrive in places that have no light and high humidity. This makes the feet very susceptible to infection because we are all accustomed to wearing shoes. Especially because many people wear the same pair of shoes day in and day out, not allowing time for them to dry and air between wearings.
Trimming your toenails too close to the skin can cause accidental cuts, providing another entry point for these fungal spores.
Shoes that fit to tightly can also be a cause of toenail fungus infection as they leave no room for your feet to breath and they can cause the breakdown of the nail where they rub, leaving an opening for the fungus to invade.
Standard Symptoms of Nail Fungus Infection
Here are some very simple ways to recognize a toenail fungus infection:
- A discoloration of the toenail, white to yellow
- The nail becomes thick and disfigured
- A stinging pain from under and around the nail
- Brown or black spots developing on the nail
- Parts of the nail crumble or flake off
- A foul odor coming from the nail
- Oozing pus from around the nail
- Toenail falling off entirely
Recommended Home Remedies for Fungal Nail Infection
The faster you catch a fungal nail infection, the easier it is to get rid of it. The early stages can be treated with any of the remedies listed below:
- ClearFungus – This is the leading natural remedy for curing toenail fungus. This is considered more of a natural product anti-fungal treatment than a home remedy as it is specially formulated to kill toenail fungus and promote new nail growth.
- Vicks VapoRub – Although no one quite understands why, Vicks VapoRub seems to prove very effective at stopping the growth of fungal infection. It does not kill the fungus but does inhibit growth, which can encourage healthy nail growth until the infection has been trimmed entirely away. No studies have been done on this but many people swear by it.
- Hydrogen Peroxide, Listerine and Rubbing Alcohol – Combined or separately, all of these chemicals have been shown to have some effect on nail fungus as they all posses antiseptic properties. Soak your toenails in your choice of these solutions (again, combined or separately) for twenty minutes, two times a day.
- Tea Tree Oil – This is a powerful essential oil that contains antiseptic and antifungal components. Wash and thoroughly dry the foot, then rub the affected nail(s) and surrounding skin with Tea Tree Oil twice a day.
- Vinegar – Soaking your toes in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water in a large tub or bowl for 20-30 minutes, then washing and thoroughly drying your feet until the infection has cleared.
These remedies are good for stopping the infection early on. If you follow these instructions closely and stick to the regular process, you should be able to clear up your infection by yourself. If your symptoms are bad to begin with, or if they worsen, seeking the help of a medical professional will become necessary.
So How Do I Tell if My Toenail
is Infected With a Fungus?
Having a nail that is infected with a fungus is not all that uncommon as it affects 10-12% of the American population. A toenail fungal infection is caused by microorganisms that lodge in the tiny cracks in the skin around the toenails. As the foot usually lives in a dark, damp environment, this is an ideal growing medium for the fungal spores. The symptoms of a fungal toenail infection are fairly consistent and if you know what to look for it is easier to catch it early on.
The first symptom to show up is usually a white or yellowish spot on the toenail. This may be a minute object, which makes it harder to recognize. This spot is the beginnings of the infection and will gradually grow to cover more of the nail. As most people don’t suffer any discomfort and with the advent of wearing nail polish, many people don’t even notice this minor change.
As the infection continues, the small spot will increase and cover the entire toenail. The toenail will become dull, yellowed and even change shape. Some people see a dark spot either where the infection began or around the edges of the toenail, though this happens more frequently with severe cases. At some point, the nail may become disconnected from the nail bed.
Nail becoming yellow and thick?
The process of the nail becoming yellow and thick is a classic toenail fungus symptom. Also common is flaking or crumbling of the toenail, which again occurs in the severe cases of the disease.
The only way to determine whether your symptoms are that of a toenail fungal infection or are the result of something that mimics these symptoms is to see your doctor. At that point your doctor will be able to ask you some questions and take a sample of your toenail to be examined under a microscope and/or cultured. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have spent time in a public pool or spa lately as this may increase your chances of contracting a toenail fungus infection.
Ask the doctor
Once your doctor has been given the chance to examine and sample your toenail, a solution will be able to be found that will be most effective for you. This will help your doctor determine which medication will be best for your particular infection. Toenail funguses are notoriously difficult to treat and cure, so allowing your doctor to get all the pertinent information will help you both to make an informed decision. One of the problems with nail funguses is that they all tend to display the same symptoms but that doesn’t mean they require the same treatment. And there are other conditions that will mimic the standard symptoms of a nail fungus, so working with your doctor to come up with the best treatment is in everybody’s interest.