Toenail fungal infection also called onychomycosis is a type of infection that occurs under the nail surface. It is caused by fungi. The infection may spread to other toenails, fingernails, and also the skin. When the infection is not treated, it can spread and can impede your activities like walking or even wearing shoes. Toenail fungus may also come encumbered with a second bacterial or yeast infection.
The toes are more vulnerable to fungi, especially in damp areas such as showers and pools where you usually go barefoot. Any injury to the nail bed and pressure from wearing tight shoes can make your nails more vulnerable to a fungal infection. People who also suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, circulatory concerns, and immune-deficiency conditions are also more at risk of becoming infected.
When fungi start to infect, the nail becomes darker and it may smell bad. The nail plate may look darker due to the debris that accumulates underneath it. The nail may become thicker and harder to trim. The nail could also become brittle and crumbly.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A nail fungus treatment depends on the level of severity and the microorganism that caused the infection. After a clinical diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe a treatment plan that includes an oral or topical medication and sometimes a combination of both.
FDA-approved oral antifungals are known for being the most effective treatment for nail fungal infections. They have a shorter recovery period which is at three months and their effectiveness is constantly improved. In some cases of nail infections, surgery may be recommended. Nail removal can be permanent or temporary.
Some studies have shown that witch hazel may help in fighting off several types of viral infections. A test-tube study revealed that tannins in witch hazel have shown inhibitory effects against human papillomavirus (HPV) and influenza A. Another test-tube study exhibited that witch hazel extract inhibits herpes simplex virus 1 which causes cold sores.