Toenail fungus infections also known as onychomycosis are common but also challenging. These types of infections are caused by organisms called dermatophytes which infect the skin underneath the nail. Molds and yeasts also bring this condition. Toenails are more vulnerable to infections because your bare feet often come in contact with moist and warm surfaces like a locker room and swimming pool floors, gym floors, and shower rooms. If you have an athlete’s foot, the infection can spread to other nails and parts of the body. Wearing closed shoes like running shoes for a long time can contribute to the infection. People who are with chronic diseases like diabetes and circulatory issues are also more prone to toenail infections.
The symptoms of toenail fungus infection may occur over time though it may be unnoticed at first. The following are some of the symptoms associated with toenail fungus infection: white spots found on nails, thickening of nails, lack of shine, foul smell, nail separating from the nail bed, the darkening or clouding of the infected nails, distorted nails, nails becoming brittle and crumbly, pain on the tips of the toes, and yellowish discoloration on the tips of the nails.
When the symptoms cause pain in the area and the toenails start to become black or brown, it’s best to see a doctor instead of treating this on your own.
There are some ways for you to keep your feet healthy. Here are some of the most important ones:
After swimming, wash your feet with warm water and soap and dry them thoroughly. It’s better to wear shower shoes when you are in locker rooms and public areas. Wear shoes that are of a comfortable fit and made of breathable materials. Make sure to disinfect nail clippers, nail files, and other paraphernalia before using. Avoiding applying nail polish to infected nails. When you have an athlete’s foot, be sure to treat it before it spreads to the nails. Take off wet shoes and socks as soon as possible and dry your feet. When you visit a salon to have your nails done, make sure that they follow the appropriate disinfection procedures.
Treatment of toenail fungus varies depending on the type of fungus causing the infection and its level of severity. For the severe type of infection, the doctor may prescribe oral antifungals. They have a higher efficacy rate than topical solutions. Oral antifungals can take two to three months for the toenail fungus infection to be cured. The following are some of the commonly prescribed antifungals: Fluconazole, Itraconazole, Terbinafine, and Griseofulvin. For the mild infection, a topical treatment may be prescribed by the doctor. This topical nail fungus treatment is meant to get rid of fungus while the new nail starts to grow. The US FDA approved the following topical medicines for toenail fungus: Amorolfine, Tavaborole, Efinaconazole, and Ciclopirox. There are cases of toenail fungus infections that are difficult to treat. That is why doctors also suggest a combination of oral and topical treatment for it. In severe cases where the treatments don’t work, the doctor may suggest a total nail removal to get rid of the infection. The nail can be removed in a surgical or non-surgical procedure.
Toenail fungus infections in the early stages can be treated at home using some remedies that are greatly accessible and more often affordable including over-the-counter treatments. Some of these are tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, baking soda, Vicks VapoRub, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide, and ozonized sunflower. One of the more popular ones in the kitchen is ginger.