What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection that may cause thickening and discoloration of the toenail and its edges to crumble. This can cause pain and also make the toenail unsightly to look at. In this article, we look at the symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatments for toenail fungus and how to prevent it in the first place.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
You may be infected with toenail fungus if your toenail shows any of the following symptoms:
- Foul odor with pain
- Debris accumulation under the nail, making it look dark
- Dull and lackluster look
- Distorted nail shape
- Nail looks ragged, crumbly or brittle
- Nail becomes thickened
Causes of Toenail Fungus
- Fungi can infect the skin under your toenail through tiny cuts or a separation between the nail and the nail bed.
- This condition mostly occurs if the nails are exposed continually to moisture and warmth, which are perfect conditions for fungi to thrive.
Risk Factors for Toenail Fungus
- Weak immune system
- Circulation problems
- Having diabetes
- Nail injury
- Suffering from athlete’s foot
- Walking bare feet in damp places like shower rooms, gyms or swimming pools
- Wearing shoes and socks that cause perspiration
- Having psoriasis
- Working in moist or humid environment
- Heavy perspiration
- Family history of toenail fungus
Treatments for Toenail Fungus
- Oral antifungal medicines like itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil) are prescribed. However, antifungal drugs can cause side effects like liver damage and skin rashes.
- For mild infection, you can apply an antifungal nail lacquer named ciclopirox (Penlac).
- You can also apply topical antifungal medications like lotions or creams.
- Surgery may be required if the infection is very painful and severe.
- You can also try photodynamic or laser therapy, which however is available only in selected places.
- Mix vinegar in warm water and soak your feet for about 15 minutes. Then rinse your feet well and pat dry them.
- You can use Vicks VapoRub on the infected nail. But get permission from your doctor before you use this home remedy.
How to Prevent Toenail Fungus
- It is essential to practice good foot hygiene. Keep your toenails clean, dry and short. Dry your feet and the space between your toes thoroughly after bathing.
- Wear cotton socks that can keep your feet dry.
- Use antifungal powder or spray inside your shoes.
- Don’t walk barefoot around locker rooms, gym showers and public pools.
- Get pedicures only from reputable salons that sterilize their instruments.
- Don’t try to hide your toenail fungus infection under nail polish which can trap moisture and aggravate the infection.
To learn about a natural remedy for toenail fungus, please watch this video: