Is toenail fungus dangerous?

Fungi are small organisms visible through a microscope. There are many different types that can trigger a nail infection. In some cases, they live on your skin and do not cause any harm. But if enough of them get in one place, you might get infected.

Causes of fungal nail infections

Onychomycosis, or nail fungi, is a lot like athlete's foot. However, instead of impacting the skin on the bottom of your feet or in between your toes, it invades your nails. Because fungi grow in dark, warm areas, your toenails are more likely to be affected than your fingernails. Your toes likewise have less blood flow than your fingers, that makes it harder for your body to prevent it. Men are a greater risk, maybe because they tend to walk barefoot in gyms. Older people or those who have chronic diseases like diabetes or a weak immune system are at greater risk.

Another cause of an infection is wearing shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty. You're also more likely to get a fungus when you don't keep your feet tidy and dry. Walking barefoot in swimming pools, locker rooms, and gyms can likewise increase your possibilities of infection. These are places where fungi spread out easily. Living with someone with the infection also puts you at risk of getting it. People with athlete's foot are likely to get the toenails infected as well.

Symptoms of fungal nail infections

In the beginning, you might just see a white or yellow area under your nail. With time, this spreads and can turn your entire nail white, green, yellow or black.

Your nail may thicken and could be tough to trim. The nails may even start to loosen up from the nail bed. Or it could become brittle and fall apart when you touch it.

It's easy to overlook fungal nail infections in the beginning, given that you might not have any pain. However, if left without treatment, it can hurt. If the infection keeps growing, walking may be very difficult.

Prevention of fungal nail infections

Talk to a doctor if you think you have nail fungus. You may require a prescription to treat it, whether that suggests taking medication by mouth or using a special cream. In severe cases, your nail may need to be removed to give room for a new one. Lasers treatments can also be used to deal with nail fungus.

How to know if you have a fungal nail infection or something else?

The difference between fungal nail infection and other nail problems

If your toenails are split, painful, discolored, and very thick, it may be a fungal infection. There are other problems that can affect the look of your nails. However, a fungal infection is the typical offender. Fungi is the reason for approximately half of all nail infections. It's really common amongst adults 60 and older. If you have type 2 diabetes, you ought to take nail fungus very seriously. Toenail fungus is very common in diabetic feet, and serious cases of it can lead to amputations. If you have diabetes, see a doctor at the slightest issue with your nails.

Other nail problems

Fungal nail infection symptoms

Due to the fact that the toes and feet are typically exposed to warmth and moisture, conditions ideal for the infections, fungal nail infections is common on the feet than hands. Your feet are likewise most likely to be exposed to fungal infections if you:

Initially, there might be no symptoms; however, over time, your nails might:

When to see your doctor regarding fungal nail infection

Anytime you believe you have a fungal nail infection or any nail issue, and treating it at home doesn't help, see a podiatric doctor. The sooner you go, the sooner the podiatric can help. Fungal nail infections can become worse in time. If you notice your nail has turned black or brown, if it starts to be painful, or if it loosens from the nail bed then it is time to see the doctor. If you have diabetes and your nails change then see your doctor immediately to prevent the issue from worsening.

Medical tests for fungal nail infection

Your doctor might have the ability to inform you that you have a fungal nail infection simply by looking at your toes. However, he might do some tests to be sure. He might decide to take a sample of your nails. The clippings can be checked to see if fungi are in them. If you do have nail fungi, you will discuss with the doctor on the alternatives.

Treatment for a fungal nail infection

A fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) isn't pretty, however doing nothing and hoping it goes away on its own won't do any good. Fungal nail infection can be treated even without going to the doctor sometimes. Some treatments for fungal nail infection you can use at home without the prescription of a doctor.

Over the counter treatments for fungal nail infections

Drug stores have antifungal lotions and creams you can try without a prescription. They're not expensive; however, typically they're not strong enough to eliminate the fungus. In some cases, an infection treated this way will clear up for a while, then return. If that takes place, you'll require to attempt something else.

Mentholated salve for fungal nail infections

Some studies have shown that a mentholated salve can get rid of a fungal infection. Swab some on the nails daily.

Snakeroot extract for fungal nail infections

Snakeroot, from the sunflower family, is a natural antifungal. For some, it works about as well as a prescription antifungal cream.

Tea tree oil for fungal nail infections

Because it's a natural antiseptic, you can attempt using this oil to your affected nail twice a day. Never take tea tree oil by mouth; it can be harmful. Still, it's uncertain how well this treatment works.

Listerine or vinegar for fungal nail infections

Soaking the affected nails in vinegar or Listerine for 5 minutes a day to dry out the affected nails.

Prescription medicines for fungal nail infections

If your fungus does not clear up, you should check in with a skin specialist or podiatrist. They might carefully scrape under your nail to eliminate some of the fungi or send it to the lab for diagnosis. They can likewise prescribe stronger medications.

Topical medicines for fungal nail infections

If you have a moderate infection, the doctor can offer you an antifungal skin cream to rub into the nail. You can cut your nail and soak the area before. This can assist the drug in attacking the deepest layers of the fungus. Your doctor may likewise suggest that you thin your nail initially with a file or urea lotion. That can assist the medication work much better, too.

There are topical drugs that work to eliminate nail fungus:

You might have side effects like swelling, redness, or stinging and burning when you apply them.

Oral medications for fungal nail infection

For an extreme infection, you can be given an antifungal pill that you'll use for about 12 weeks. Studies reveal that drugs like terbinafine and itraconazole work best to help new, healthy nail to grow. These pills are not typically provided to people with liver disease or heart issues. Taking an antifungal pill, you'll need to have a blood test every six weeks to make certain it isn't causing any issues.

Other Treatments for fungal nail infections

Laser treatment for fungal nail infections

High doses of light might kill stubborn fungi. This technique is fairly new. While outcomes up until now have actually been great, more studies are required to prove that it can be safe and helpful. Laser treatments are likewise expensive and usually not covered by insurance.

Nail removal

If you are in pain and other treatments have not worked, the doctor can consider removing the infected nail. This lets a new healthy nail to grow, although it could take more than a year. Your nail will be removed by putting a strong chemical on it, or you might require surgical treatment. Either can be performed in a clinic. You will not require to remain in the hospital.

After that, make sure your nail does not get infected again. Sanitize your bathroom tiles with bleach. Use socks with your shoes. Do not go barefoot, especially in public locations.

Fungal nail surgery

What to expect in a fungal nail surgery?

If you've tried it all to get rid of your fungal nail infection with no avail, it might be time for surgery. It's not a common surgical treatment. However, it's a choice when all else fails. You nails will be taken out but will grow back. However, it grows very slowly and may take as long as 18 months.

What happens during nail surgery?

Nail surgery can be performed in your doctor's office. The area around the nail will first be numbed. It is the same as getting your gums numbed by the dentist. You'll be awake for the surgery; however, you won't feel any pain. As soon as the nail is numb, your doctor utilizes special tools to remove the entire nail or simply the infected piece.

In serious cases, he might need to damage the nail matrix. This is what makes your nail grow back. After the surgery, you will be given an antibiotic cream and a plaster around your nail bed. This is where the nail used to be. The antibiotic makes sure you do not get a bacterial infection. The surgical treatment generally takes less than an hour.

Recovery from nail surgery

Initially, in the first few hours, the area will still be numb. Then, you may feel pain and throbbing. Swelling and bleeding can also be noticed. After about 48 hours, keep your arm or leg raised above the level of your heart as much as you can. This aids with the pain and keeps the swelling down. As you recover, change the plaster daily as shown by the doctor. You will also be given an antifungal medicine to put on your nailbed. This kills any fungi that's left.

When will I be back to normal after a nail surgery?

The recovery rate of everyone is different, but anticipate a minimum of 2-3 weeks for the nailbed to recover. You will be advised when to resume your normal errands. Fingernails grow back in six months, and 18 months for the toenails. This could even take longer.

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