Toenail fungal infection is a common condition of the nails. It may begin as a spot on the nail, which can be yellow, white, or brown found underneath the nail. As the fungal infection goes deeper into the nail bed, it can also distort the shape of the nail, thicken, and make it crumbly at the edges. It can affect one or several nails. At times the nail may lift off the nail bed. The medical name for this condition is onychomycosis. It may not cause pain at first; but if the condition is left untreated, it can become painful and emit a foul odor.
Causes and Risk Factors
Various fungal organisms cause nail fungus infections. The most common is called dermatophytes, but nail infections may also be caused by molds and yeasts. It may start as an athlete’s foot first, and it may spread from one nail to the next as well as other parts of the body.
Several risk factors contribute to its prevalence. Age is one of them. Toenail fungal infection affects older adults more than young ones. It’s because as a person ages, the nail can become brittle and dry. Cracks in the nails can serve as the entry point of fungus. A weakened immune system is also another factor as well as limited blood flow to the feet caused by an illness like diabetes. Walking barefoot in a moist and warm environment like in public swimming pools, shower rooms, and locker rooms or gyms is a major risk factor as well. Fungus finds this kind of environment favorable. A nail injury or skin condition like psoriasis may also lead to a nail fungus infection.
Toenail fungal infection can be difficult to cure. Consult with your doctor about some self-care techniques and the use of over-the-counter treatments if you plan to use them. The nail fungus treatment depends on the type of fungus and the level of severity of the condition. It may take months up to a year to totally heal the infection with the growth of a new nail. Recurrence of infection is also a common condition.
The doctor may prescribe oral antifungals that are known to work faster than topical medications. These antifungals include itraconazole and terbinafine. These pills must be taken for six to twelve weeks.
At times, the doctor may recommend a medicated nail cream or nail polish ciclopirox. The medicated nail polish is applied like a regular nail polish every day for about a year while the nail cream can be rubbed onto the infected nail after soaking your feet. It is also advisable to thin the nails first before applying the cream.
A combination treatment or both oral and topical solutions may also be recommended by the doctor. When antifungal medications fail, the doctor may suggest a complete nail removal through minor surgery. Laser surgery is also an option.
Conventional medical treatments may have several side effects. That’s why some people prefer to use home remedies that are more affordable and accessible and easy to apply. Most of these home remedies are herbs, plants, seeds, and some kitchen staples. Examples of these include tea tree oil, white vinegar, garlic, lavender oil, Vicks VapoRub, essential oils, and many others. One of them is the rosehip essential oil. Essential oils along with vitamin E can give tender loving care to your fingernails as well as your overall health.