What is Toenail Fungus?
Medical practitioners often refer toenail fungus as onychomycosis. However, onychomycosis would not solely mean toenail fungus but fingernail fungus as well. This condition is also known in other names including Ringworm of the nail, Tinea Unguium and Dermatophytic Onychomycosis.
This is a common concern among people especially the elderly ones. Nearly 6-8% of the adult population is suffering from toenail fungus. It is rare to encounter toenail fungus among the younger population however. A recent study has found that nearly 48 percent of the adults in the United States alone have at least one toenail affected. Toenail fungus is among the most common nail disorders and this is also among the primary reasons why nails get disfigured. Though all of the toenails may be affected by onychomycosis, it has been recently found out that the nails of the big and small toes are more commonly affected. There can be a number of factors that would lead to the development of toenail fungus but excessive moisture is the primary culprit. Since this is a condition that may affect nearly each of us then better read on to find out more about this.
Toenail Fungus Symptoms
The symptoms associated with toenail fungal infection may depend on the type of fungus. Generally, there can be several symptoms observed in toenail fungus infection and the most common ones are listed below:
These are considered to be the forewarning signs of infected nails. These are specifically seen at the tip of your nails.
This is the most prominent symptom that can be associated with toenail fungus infection. Infected nails usually become discolored. From white it will become yellowish or brownish. In some instances, this may be discolored black or green.
Infected nails would also become abnormally thickened.
As the infection progresses the nails would become brittle. Initially, nails may split into small fragments and completely separate from the toes or fingers which is medically referred to as onchylosis.
Infection also causes the skin under the nails to get inflamed. At times, the skin surrounding the nails may become scaly.
Additionally, infected nails may be found entirely out of shape.
Toenail fungus infection also causes the nails to lose its shine.
Some people may also notice repugnant smell coming from the infected nails.
Toenail Fungus Causes
Fungi are microorganisms that may survive even in the absence of sunlight and these are considered to be the major culprit in onychomycosis. They are not however all the time bad for the body. Nevertheless, when they begin to proliferate that is certainly the time that they would be detrimental to one’s health. Toenail fungus infection is particularly caused by microorganisms called dermatophytes. Other culprits of onychomycosis are yeasts and molds. Though both the nails of the fingers and toes may get infected with fungi, the toenails are more affected due to some reasons. Since fungi are the main causative agent of this condition, a moist environment is ideal for them to flourish. When you frequently wear poorly or tightly-fitted shoes or perhaps wearing damp socks there will be increased moisture on your feet and this is really a subtle condition for fungi to breed. This is the primary reason why toenail fungus infection develops. Poor blood circulation is also another aggravating factor in toenail fungus infection. Because the toes are distal unlike the fingers circulation would not be as excellent which makes it harder for the immune system to detect the presence of any infectious process going on. People who frequently wear tightly-fitting shoes and those who live in the tropics are more likely to develop toenail fungus infection.
Toenail fungus may be easily misdiagnosed. That is why further laboratory tests are imperative. The most commonly done diagnostic procedures to determine toenail fungus infection include histology, culture as well as potassium hydroxide smear. All of these tests would help detect the pathogenic microorganism present. The tests would usually involve obtaining nail clippings or scrapings for laboratory analysis. Nail biopsy, utilizing acid-Schiff stain, may also be done. Once toenail fungus infection has been diagnosed, treatment may right away be given.
Toenail Fungus Treatment
If you suspect that you’re suffering from toenail fungus infection, it is highly recommended that you consult your doctor as soon as possible for treatment to be rendered. It is critical to have your toenail fungus infection treated the soonest because this can very difficult to treat and would usually wax and wane. Some people try to resort to over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and ointments available but you cannot expect them to be as effective.
Oral Anti-fungal Drugs
Your doctor would most likely prescribe you with oral anti-fungal medications such as itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil). You will be taking this medication for at least six weeks and may last for up to 12 weeks until the toenail fungus infection is completely treated. Nevertheless, you won’t be able to see improvements unless the nail has grown back to normal. It usually takes up to about 4 months to be completely free from toenail fungus infection.
Topical Anti-fungal Medications
These may also be applied directly on the affected areas. To potentiate the effect of topical anti-fungal medications, you may be suggested to apply lotion beforehand.
This is the last resort to treat toenail fungus infection and may be indicated especially in severe cases. During the procedure your doctor will remove the entire nail. Doing so would help resolve the infection and promote speedy healing. You just have to be patient in waiting for the nail to grow back. Generally, it may take at least a year for the nail to fully grow.
Acid treatment is done before this therapy. This utilizes intense light and is considered to be very effective in treating fungus infection. Nevertheless, this medical breakthrough is not yet widely available.
Toenail Fungus Pictures
Pictures, Images and Photos of the condition Toenail Fungus…