An estimated 1 billion people have a type of fungal infection. Most of these infections are mild, but they seem to be spreading fast among people. Toenail fungal infection also goes by the name onychomycosis. It is a common condition that is quite challenging to treat.
Fungal nail infections are often caused by fungi known as dermatophytes. They are known to infect the skin underneath the nail. Another cause of this condition is yeasts and the most common of yeasts is Candida. Toenails are vulnerable to infections especially when you are fond of walking barefoot in warm and damp areas like public pools, shower rooms, locker rooms, and gyms. If you have an athlete’s foot, the infection will likely spread to your nails. Wearing tight shoes without proper ventilation may also increase the risk of getting infected as well as wearing unclean and damp socks due to heavy perspiration. People who have diabetes and circulatory issues may also be more susceptible to nail fungal infections.
Toenail fungal infections can take a long time to develop. The symptoms may not be noticeable at first. Symptoms of this type of infection include yellow discoloration seen at the top part of the nail, white spots that suddenly appear on the nail, thickening of the nail, distortion of the nail’s shape, foul odor coming from the infected nail, nail setting off from the nail bed, lack of shine, having brittle or crumbly nail, darkening or clouding of the nail, and pain felt in the toe tips. When the symptoms persist and they cause pain and discomfort, it’s best to see a doctor or a specialist such as a podiatrist.
The doctor will check your nails. He or she may also get some nail clippings or scrape some debris underneath the nail. These will be sent to a lab as samples to determine the type of fungus that causes the infection. This is an important step since there are other conditions such as psoriasis that mimic the symptoms of toenail fungus. Remember that yeast, mold, and bacteria may also infect the nails. Knowing the cause of the infection will help determine the best treatment.
The doctor will likely prescribe antifungal pills since they are known for having a high efficacy rate. Examples of these oral pills are terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). These drugs help in the growth of a new nail that is free from infection. These pills have to be taken from 6 to 12 weeks. The doctor may also prescribe an antifungal nail polish known as ciclopirox (Penlac). This will be painted on the infected nail and the surrounding skin daily. This may have to be applied the entire year. Another possible prescription is an antifungal cream that can be rubbed on the nail after the toes are soaked. Before you apply the nail fungus treatment, make sure that you clip the nail and file it down. At times, it is best to have a combination treatment of both oral and topical medications. For severe infections, the doctor may prescribe surgery to remove the nail for the antifungal treatment to be applied to the source of the fungus.
1Other Types of Treatments
Some people try to avoid taking oral medication for toenail fungus due to its side effects. Those who experience mild symptoms often resort to home remedies. Their first options are remedies that can be bought over the counter like Vicks VapoRub. There are also home remedies that are more natural such as herbs, garden plants, and spices that can be used to get rid of the toenail fungus. One of these is forsythia. This is a shrub that produces fruits that are known as Lian Qiao. This is a medicinal herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. In the past, this has been used for treating nausea, sore throat, and fever. It is usually combined with other herbs to maximize its benefits. The most common of these is honeysuckle.
Forsythia can be taken as a tea. Its benefits are known for many generations already as a potent antibiotic and as a heat-lowering agent. The forsythia fruit contains all the healthy components of the plant such as oleanolic acid, phyllirin, lignans, and phenylethanoids. All these are known to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. To prepare the tea, put the fruit in boiling water and allow it to soak for a few seconds before removing the water from the heat. Let it sit for another 3 to 5 minutes, strain, and drink it. Forsythia is most often combined with other herbs like honeysuckle to fight off heat-related illnesses like the flu and upper respiratory tract infection. This may also be infused in balms to be applied topically as a treatment for rash conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Pregnant women are prohibited from taking forsythia.
Some studies revealed the benefits of forsythia. A 2017 review published in Molecules showed that in vitro dried fruit from the forsythia plant has been seen to fight off bacteria like E. coli, streptococcus, and staphylococcus aureus (staph). A 2013 study was also published in Integrative Biology that looked into the effects of forsythia and Japanese honeysuckle on the flu virus. The study showed that the two plants prevent the virus from multiplying and helping with the immune cell function. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, forsythia has been seen to be effective against H1N1. When it comes to its inflammatory effects, a 2017 study conducted on mice which was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology revealed that forsythia has promising potential in the treatment of intestinal inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis, whose symptoms are inflammation and the occurrence of ulcers in the digestive tract.
Other uses of forsythia also include the following: tonsillitis, sore throat, fever, gonorrhea, pain, and swelling or inflammation, inflammation of tiny air passages in the lungs also called bronchiolitis. Evidence has shown that an injectable form of the forsythia may be safe for children to take. Forsythia slows blood clotting. It might be a concern to take it during and after surgery.