Studies have shown that toenail fungus takes about 50% of all toenail diseases. Fungal growth and spread is supported by the warm and damp conditions of the toenails. This infection gets into your nails through surface cracks or cuts in the skin around the toenails.
What are the causes of toenail fungus?
You will only get this infection if:
- The environment around the toenail is dirty or damp- If you don’t focus on your toenail hygiene, you are more likely to get this infection.
Poor nail hygiene includes but not limited to long dirty nail, wearing the same socks every day, using unsterilized tools on your nails and not drying your nails thoroughly.
All these factors make very supportive environments for the fungus to breed and even spread to other nails.
- You have an opening in the vicinity of the toenail- if you have an injury on the area around the nails, you have a higher risk of getting a fungal infection.
While you may view walking barefooted as fun, it can expose your toenails to small cut that are entry points of these microorganisms.
Some medical conditions have been observed to increase the risk of nail fungal infections. These include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Blood related diseases
- Weakened immune system
- Highly sweaty legs
- A family history of fungal infections
The most common signs of fungal infection on the nails are:
- Discoloration- The initial color of your nails changes to a dull or yellowish color.
- Thickening of the nails.
- Cracking or breaking off of the toenails.
If the fungal infection is not dealt with in its initial stages, it may cause severe symptoms such as:
- Foot pain- If the disease is on its worst, it can cause swelling of the toes that may cause a sharp pain. If the pain is severe, it may be even hard to walk when wearing shoes.
- Nail loss- The infected toenail can separate from its bed and from the toe entirely if the infection is severe.
You should not assume that you have a nail fungal infection if you have one of the symptoms discussed above. The best and surest method to confirm if the condition is a fungal infection is by visiting a medical professional.
A good doctor should conduct the diagnosis through a series of three processes to determine if you have a nail fungal infection.
The doctor should first observe the toenail and the area around it for any visual signs of the fungal infection, then proceed to a microscopic study of the nail clipping and finally do a fungal culture in the lab.
If a nail fungal infection is detected at an early stage, a prescription of oral anti-fungal pills is used to kill the microorganisms.
Severe fungal infection must force the doctor to remove part of the nail, Matrixectomy, or the entire nail through an invasive method called Avulsion.
Good toenails and entire legs hygiene is the only way to keep these microorganisms at bay.
However, if you do your best in terms of cleanliness and the infection still occurs, you should visit your doctor immediately so that the toenail fungus infection is reversed easily.