Athlete’s Foot

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a contagious fungal infection that develops between the toes and can affect (especially the little toe and the toe next to it) and can affect toenails as well as surrounding skin. The name stems from the fact that it commonly harasses people who have a dynamic lifestyle and engage into sports, swimming and similar activities which subsequently can result in sweaty feet wrapped around in tight shoes – a suitable place for fungal infections to materialize.

What are the main causes?

Athlete’s foot springs from a range of fungi that are classified as “dermatophytes”. These flourish in warm and moist environments such as showers, pools, locker rooms, and obviously, tight training shoes and have the tendency to multiply fast, causing skin cells to degenerate. The disease is also transmissible, meaning one can pick it up by sharing towels and shoes or by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces.

Who is likely to develop the infection?

Sadly, almost anyone can contract the disease. Still, some precipitating factors or particular habits can further contribute to someone being more easily afflicted with it. These can be:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Weak immune system
  • Poor nutrition
  • Leading a very active lifestyle
  • Walking barefoot on locker room and shower floors or around swimming pools
  • Small skin or toenail injuries
  • Sharing socks, shoes, towels or even clippers with other people
  • Not taking proper care of personal hygiene
  • Wearing tight snickers

How can someone tell they have athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot usually manifests itself through easily discernible signs that typically involve:

  • Itchiness coupled with burning sensation between the toes
  • Thickened soles skin
  • Peeling skin between the toes and on the soles
  • Itchy blisters
  • Thickened and brittle toenails
  • Toenail discoloration (white or yellow)
  • Painful fissures
  • Repulsive smell

At times, coming up with your own diagnosis can be slightly trickier since some of the aforementioned symptoms can be also triggered by other reasons. In that case, a skin test may be needed to determine if you actually are afflicted by athlete’s foot.

Is there any more to it?

Unfortunately, yes. As mentioned earlier, the infection, no matter how mild it may initially appear, should not be overlooked because it can spring unwanted complications. For instance, an allergic reaction can bring about blistering on someone’s hands. Moreover, the fissures in the skin provide bacteria with a wide entry point which can increase the risk of developing cellulitis. And if a bacterial infection spreads into the lymphatic drainage system, it may induce swollen nodes.

Prevention tips

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. So, here is a list of the simplest safety precautions you can follow so that you limit the chances of athlete’s foot ensuing in the first place:

  • Shop for footwear made of breathable materials which prevent moisture from developing inside them
  • Disinfect your shoes using special products such as sprays
  • Apply anti-fungal powder on your feet on a regular basis
  • Avoid walking barefoot in locker room showers and public areas
  • Frequently wash your feet with soap, drying them carefully and emphasizing in the areas between your toes
  • Avoid sharing socks and shoes with other people
  • Opt for a dry pair of socks whenever sweat build up inside your shoes
  • Wash your socks in 150°F water
  • Clip your toenails carefully using your own nail clippers
  • Refrain from scratching the rashed areas; aim at soothing your feet by soaking them in cool water instead
  • Try use two or more pairs of trainers when working out so that you always slip into some nice dry shoes before your training begins

Treatment

Despite athlete’s foot not being regarded as a very serious skin infection, it shouldn’t be left untreated since it can spread to other areas of the body and bring about unexpected complications. The most common ways to do that are initially several OTC (over-the-counter) products, topical or oral drugs obtainable on prescription or home treatments and alternative remedies.

OTC medications

The most common way to combat the condition is using OTC anti-fungal products. You can purchase products like ointments, gels sprays or powders and apply them on the affected areas of your feet daily or twice a day for as long it takes to eliminate the rash (typically, the remedy needs to be continued for an extra week or ten days after the infection subsides). The most common OTC anti-fungal agents are miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, tolnaftate, butenafine etc.

Prescription medications

There can be cases where OTC medications fail to do the trick, so here’s a list of the most standard drugs, either topical or oral, your doctor may prescribe:

  • topical clotrimazole or miconazole
  • topical medications aiming at diminishing soreness
  • oral anti-fungal creams and powders (itraconazole, fluconazole, terbinafine)
  • oral antibiotics

In general, topical medicines are the more appropriate solution. Treatment usually takes a full month before the symptoms abate. If the infection persists, oral antifungals are the next stop, while treatment may take up to two months and is determined by the severity of the condition.

Needless to say that prescription medications’ use should abide by the guidlelines your doctor designates. Since some of the aforementioned medications can lead to side-effects, it is imperative that you follow your physician’s mandates to lessen potential side effects.

Alternative remedies

There is a number of homemade remedies that have been gaining popularity over the years and can help you deal with the infection in an effective and natural way. For example, you can soak your feet in salt water or diluted vinegar so as to kill the root of the infection and reduce inflammation; alternatively, you can apply the remedy on the affected area. There are also essential oil remedies (such as lavender, tea tree oi, which you can rub onto the skin so as to alleviate itching and swelling, clove, oregano, garlic, which is very effective in killing bacteria, etc.) that can help fight fungal infections. A special reference should be made to coconut oil, which is a superb way of nourishing dry skin and help it regenerate while also boosting your immune system.

Conclusion

Athlete’s foot is an infection that, though not very distressing initially, can be quite annoying, persistent and painful if left untreated. In most cases, anti-fungal treatment is the sure way to go, delivering sound and dependable cure. However, the likelihood of the infection reappearing can not be ruled out, so it is necessary to keep in touch with your doctor for optimum results.

Toenail fungus and why you shouldn’t wait before taking action

The majority of people afflicted with toenail fungus typically choose to downplay the issue by thinking it’s exclusively related to their nails appearance or that it’s going to fade away on its own. Sadly, this particular approach is flawed; not only does toenail fungus usually come with an array of accompanying ailments which extend way beyond aesthetics, it can also have much more serious and long lasting repercussions than just a few yellow or thick nails – if left untreated. Therefore, seeking medical treatment early is the only way to prevent the condition from deteriorating and posing severe health hazards.

Do you suffer from nail fungus? Don't wait, act now!

So, which are the possible ramifications of toenail fungus?

Pain and discomfort

A typical symptom of a fungal infection is soreness caused by the affected nails becoming brittle and deformed. If the situation is not dealt with in a timely manner, then things can only get worse. Having difficulty walking, wearing shoes or even standing for prolonged periods of time is very likely to ensue, interfering even with simple everyday activities.

Permanent toenail deformity, discoloration or loss

Failing to deal with toenail fungus typically results in nail discoloration and deformation, which can be a nasty spectacle that will ruin your feet look. Still, further ignoring the issue can cause even more unpleasant developments; the fungus can lead to the nail plate getting detached from the underlying or the lateral supporting structures (a condition known as onycholysis). In most cases, the separation occurs gradually without inducing pain. However, if the nail doesn’t fall off on its own and the fungal infection persists, a surgical procedure may need to take place for the entire nail to be extracted permanently.

Spreading to adjacent nails (or to others!)

Another issue associated with not treating the fungus appropriately is that it can spread to the surrounding skin, ultimately affecting the rest of your toenails. This in turn can bring about more dermatological issues, skin infections and itchiness, severely compromising a person’s everyday life. Furthermore, there is a remote, yet not entirely improbable, scenario where the infection spreads to people closest to you, such as family members, roommates or friends, raising another reason why the infection should be dealt with early, preventing others from contracting the disease.

Extensive infection

The most alarming consequences of not taking timely care of a toenail fungus infection, though, can affect individuals suffering from diabetes or other chronic conditions which undermine the effectiveness of the immune system. Then, the fungus can permeate in the skin, weakening its integrity and allowing for bacteria to penetrate into the bloodstream, which in extreme cases can develop into a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis. Cellulitis should in turn be dealt with antibiotics, otherwise it can lead to added trouble in the form of drastic drop in blood pressure that can even induce death. Other complications of a nail fungal infection include jock itch (scientifically known as ringworm), causing patches on a person’s skin to manifesting inflammation and become itchy. In general, given that a fungal infection may potentially spread to other parts of the body, it should be tackled as soon as you notice the first worrisome signs.

All in all, if you suspect that you have been afflicted with a toenail infection, we suggest you consult a specialist as soon as possible. Contrary to common belief, the infection can only deteriorate over time – and ignoring it can have a dramatic impact on your daily life. It is only with anti-fungal treatments (which are usually free of serious side effects) and proper preventive measures (keeping your feet as clean and dry as possible, avoid walking barefoot in places where the fungus thrives etc) that you will be able to properly fight it off and enjoy healthy, attractive feet.

8 Factors contributing to the development of Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus (also know as onychomycosis) is an infection that afflicts toenails causing them to appear cracked, discolored, thick and brittle, while it can sometimes even affect their shape and texture. If ignored or not treated properly, the situation may become fairly cumbersome, leading to pain, discomfort or even result in pieces breaking and falling off. Although almost anyone can end up contracting this infection, specific groups of people are more likely to develop it, since a wide range of factors can trigger its appearance and intensify its progress. Let’s have a look at them as well as a couple of tips that can help you stop this infection.

Toenail fungus

1. Other Health Conditions

The chances of someone contracting toenail fungus depend greatly on pre-existing ailments. Therefore, individuals suffering from diabetes, HIV or poor circulation and other health conditions are more likely to develop onychomycosis, since an ineffectual immune system and reduced blood flow to the toes significantly favor the growth of the fungus. Previous nail injuries or nail surgeries can also play a role. Needless to say, age too –despite not being a health condition in itself– stimulates the development of the fungus due to prolonged exposure to fungi as well as the reduced blood flow it is associated with.

2. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent way of jeeping in shape, but what about its repercussions on your toenails health? Well, as we established, fungi thrive in wet and humid areas, so swimming pools unfortunately pose a substantial hazard. Although a chlorinated pool is in itself a relatively safe place, that can not be said about locker rooms and showers. Therefore, it is vital that you not walk barefoot there, as infections can spread easily from person to person. Hygienic discipline is the key word in these places; wearing special shower shoes or flip flops as well as showering and drying your nails carefully before putting on your shoes is of major importance.

3. Jogging

As mentioned earlier, moisture aids fungal infections. It’s no wonder then that runners are habitually afflicted with toenail fungus. Sweaty feet in tight sneakers for prolonged periods of time is a sure recipe for picking up the infection. If you enjoy jogging, make sure you utilize footwear and socks that prevent excessive humidity from evolving while trying to ensure your sneakers are thoroughly dried before you put them on.

4. Wearing socks and pantyhose

This point is related to the previous one. Even if you’re not a professional or an amateur athlete, chances are you do wear socks or pantyhose during your day. And since the latter is usually made form nylon which is excellent in trapping moisture, the danger of a fungal infection is extremely high. Therefore, avoid wearing them pantyhose, or, if that is not on the cards, use some antiperspirant or powder to keep your feet as much dry as possible during the day. As for socks, opt for those made of synthetic fiber (instead of cotton or wool), as they’re able to diffuse moisture much more effectively.

5. Wearing Heavy Boots

Laborers of all kinds are a group in greater danger of picking up a toenail fungal infection due to the special workwear they are ordinarily required to use. Although no one can argue against the level of safety they provide, work apparel and footwear usually fail to provide ample ventilation, nurturing toenail fungus in the moist environment they create. The pressure applied to toenails due to heavy boots is another contributing factor. So, if you are a construction worker or a farmer, make sure you avoid wearing the same pair of work boots every day; an extra pair, left to dry between work days, is just what you need to diminish the chances of getting the infection.

6. Wearing Tight Shoes

Even if you don’t wear professional footwear, casual shoes also play a big role in aiding the condition in coming about. Closed and tight shoes prevent your feet from breathing properly, while they sometimes squeeze them so hard that can undermine their integrity, rendering them more prone to the infection. So, shop for shoes made of materials that enable your feet to breathe – or even wear flip-flops as much as possible!

7. Polishing Nails

Undoubtedly, nail polish look great on your feet; however, it can turn out to be detrimental in the long run. This is because it is likely to impede light from reaching your nail, thus promoting fungal expansion. Suffice it to say, applying polish onto possibly infected nails can spread the infection to the healthy ones. Furthermore, getting them polished in beauty salons also puts them at risk. Finally, if you’re already dealing with fungus nail issues, do not opt for covering the problem with nail polish; seek medical advice instead!

8. Sharing Clippers

Keeping your toenails well-trimmed will definitely help prevent infections. And clipping them straight across to keep them from extending beyond the toe tip is a fine piece of advice. But you’d better not do that unless you’re using your own clippers as the fungus can be transferred that way! It is also advisable that you disinfect your clippers on a frequent basis for further protection.

All in all, if you happen to belong to one of the aforementioned categories, it is important that you take good care of your feet to stop the ailment from occurring. Moreover, if you notice any symptoms, consult a physician in order to confirm you have a fungal infection so as to proceed to the appropriate cure.

Seven Tips to Keep Toenail Fungus at bay

Toenail fungus may be a fairly common infection but it usually proves troublesome. A matter of great annoyance – as nails become discolored, thick and susceptible to cracking –, it is also a severe health issue that may take several months to treat. However, there is good news too; the fungus is actually not that hard to prevent. And as it often is the case with health disorders, prevention is better than cure. So, here are a few simple suggestions that can help you keep your feet robust and fungus-free.

Best tips to prevent nail fungus

1. Keep your feet dry. It is well known that fungi prosper in humid areas, so it is vital that you thoroughly wipe your toes – focusing especially on the areas between them, as they tend to trap moisture – before you put on your socks and shoes. In general, make sure you keep your feet nice and dry by avoiding wearing socks or pantyhose for prolonged amounts of time; if that is not possible, try to protect your toes by frequently airing your socks. Same goes for footwear; avoid putting on the shoes you wore the previous day while jogging, as they can only enhance the possibility of a fungal infection. It also goes with out saying that you should never share shoes with other individuals.

2. Select airy footwear. This particular tip is actually closely related to the previous one: shop for breezy shoes made of materials such as leather, which enable air to pass through and prevent sweat, thus keeping your feet dry and therefore less prone to develop the fungus.

3. Select the fitting footwear. Sensible shoes obviously isn’t just about the material; size does matter too if you want to ward off the fungus. Therefore, buy shoes that won’t squeeze your feet and toes, giving your toenails some breathing space. Badly shaped or cramped shoes can really give your nails a hard time, contributing to the fungus developing.

4. Eradicate the fungus from the get-go! Use an anti-fungal powders to spray your shoes with. Sterilizing your socks and shoes using anti-bacterial sprays on a regular basis is a great way of stopping fungi spores from growing, substantially hindering the infection from occurring in the first place. Washing your socks in hot water is another step to the same direction, which ensures that fungi are thoroughly eliminated before you put them on.

5. Take precautions when in public. As mentioned earlier, fungi thrive in damp and moist environments, and that makes locker rooms, public pools, gyms and showers exceptionally unkind to your foot health. In these fungus-infested areas, walking barefoot makes picking up the infection almost unavoidable. Therefore, a pair of sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes can turn out to be an invaluable ally in these environments.

6. Take proper care of your toenails. First off, you need to use appropriate, specially designed nail-cutting tools you can pick up from a pharmacy. Then, you should ensure you cut your nails straight across after you’ve sterilized your clippers by soaking them in boiling water, scrubbing off remaining dead skin cells, soaking them in rubbing alcohol and carefully drying them with a paper towel. Needless to day, DON’T share your nail clippers with other people!

7. Build up your immune system. Fungal infections are far less likely to successfully attack your organism when coming up against a sound immune system. Therefore, watch what you eat, opt for nourishing meals, work out sensibly and try to stick to regular sleeping patterns that will enable you to be fit, vigorous and less receptive to the infection.

If you’re already suffer from nail fungus these tips won’t fix the problem! Read our unbiased reviews on the best nail fungus treatments available.

Physical treatments for fungus nail

Toenail infection (or onychomycosis) is one of the most common fungal diseases that affects a significant percentage of the general population. Curing it with the use of oral drugs and topical anti-fungal lotions often turns out to be laborious and tricky with questionable results, while the infection frequently relapses after a period of time. As a consequence, a number of alternative physical treatments have emerged, slowly gaining popularity thanks to several in vitro studies already showing encouraging results. Three of these alternative solutions are photodynamic therapy, laser therapy and plasma therapy.

Photodynamic therapy works by employing photosensitive agents (such as methylene blue dye, methyl-aminolevulinate, aminolevulinic acid or rose bengal) applied directly to the targeted area and irradiated with a light of specific wavelength and oxygen to generate reactive oxygen species which ultimately eliminate the infected tissue. Employing this method, however, calls for the patient having to comply with lengthy treatment sessions that last well over a six-month period, thus inevitably rendering the treatment not convenient for every patient. In addition, this particular therapy frequently depends on pre-treatment of the affected area (usually with urea) so as to enable photosensitizing agents to reach the nail plate.

While the premise sounds promising and in vitro studies have confirmed the method’s potential, in vivo studies delving deeper into its effectiveness mainly involve, at least for the time being, scant case reports. In any case, a systematic review carried out in 2016 revealed interesting findings in terms of the therapeutic advantages of photodynamic therapy, while few mild side effects (moderate pain, swelling and redness) were reported before subsiding in the following days. Another, randomized clinical trial conducted in 2014 displayed impressive results, with eight out of ten participants (treated with methylene blue dye irradiated with non-coherent red light) having found to be relieved from onychomycosis, compared to the unsatisfactory results rendered by a group that only received anti-fungal oral medication (fluconazole). What’s more, anticipated advancements in permeability of photosensitizing agents and reduced pre-treatment as well as the fact that the method does not interfere with other drugs make a strong case for this solution. Regardless, more research should be done before one can be positive on the actual therapeutic benefits photodynamic therapy is capable of delivering.

Laser therapy offers a non-invasive and painless procedure that uses laser heat to trigger a relatively complicated photo-thermal process which ultimately weakens and eradicates the fungus responsible for the infection. A laser beam is adjusted at a certain wavelength and absorbed by the fungus, thus undermining its structure while leaving surrounding tissues intact. The types of lasers employed in dealing with nail fungus are Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG – usually set to emit a 1064-nm wavelength), Q-switched or Potassium Titanyl Phosphate.

A clear testament to the method’s strengths is the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has already given approval to laser therapy for dealing with toenail infections. Still, this approval mostly revolves around cosmetic benefits, while solid results pertaining to mycological remedy are much harder to determine.

A major cause for concern is cost: laser treatments are steeply priced, with the total cost for a typical five-session package ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, rendering this method practically unaffordable for the bigger portion of patients. Results, however, are estimated to be noticeable a couple of months later, although a full year may be needed to fully evaluate the method’s effectiveness.

Once again, although the theory is sensible, laser power can’t exactly be totally trusted for curing onychomycosis. The biggest issue lies more on the limited data available so far as well as the insubstantial methodology employed – the actual results are actually fairly satisfactory. For example, studies conducted so far hadn’t incorporate control groups, which makes reliable assessment of the method real potential extremely precarious. Moreover, clinical terminology used is sometimes very diverge (resulting in pointless comparisons), whereas the sheer amount of data is not ample enough to provided conclusive evidence. Some studies have come up with results for patients encountering issues in one toenail, whereas others have gone for a several-nails-per-person approach, thus yielding conflicting evidence which rather shrouds than sheds light on the treatment’s effectiveness. With these in mind, a review taking place in 2017 showed that almost four out of ten patients’ toenail condition ameliorated while the percentage rose to 70% of affected nails; on the down side, the proportion of participants who achieved totally clear nail results was dramatically lower (less than 15%), suggesting onychomycosis would almost certainly recur in the future. As for the mycological effects, they were shown on 63% of nails but only on one out of ten patients. On the plus side, side effects, swelling or bleeding are not to be expected when employing this specific method. Nevertheless, although laser therapies seem to be able to enhance the appearance of nails, the data available for the time being is not equally favorable when it comes to actually remedying onychomycosis (at least in comparison with conventional topical and oral treatments currently available in the marker for a fraction of the cost). So, for now, the limited amount of information available coupled with ambiguous results suggest that laser treatments be further investigated before being able to be regarded as a truly trustworthy method for curing toenail fungus.

Rounding out the list is plasma therapy, which is carried out by administering ionized gases at low gas pressures (“cold” or non-thermal plasma) directly to the surface of infected nails in a painless procedure. Since non-thermal plasma has displayed great effectiveness in killing bacteria and anti-fungal properties in vitro, it appears to be a very promising solution for onychomycosis sufferers, since it is a non-invasive method which has the added bonus of not interacting with other drugs.

A study carried out in 2017 with 19 participants dealing with toenail fungus turned over a very healthy clinical cure percentage of almost 55% with mycological cure reaching 15%. Questionnaires at the end of the study ensured that patient satisfaction was also taken into account. In total, plasma therapy was shown to provide substantial relief and a salutary remedy for onychomycosis sufferers. Still, thorough research as well as a copious amounts of real-life data are necessary to confirm the true potential of this method.

Natural Therapies for Nail Fungus

Nail fungus (or onychomycosis) is a relatively common ailment which plagues a significant amount of general population. To cure it, there is a whole array of alternative natural treatments offered at reasonable cost. An additional bonus associated with those remedies is that they have been proven to bring about few side effects (mainly, redness or mild pain). Finally, compared to conventional therapies, which usually induce a fungal resistance response, natural therapies are far less likely to provoke such a reaction thanks to their bio-active constituents.

Nevertheless, employing natural remedies incorporating anti-fungal ingredients in order to nail fungus is not always effective. A potential cause lies on the unpredictable nature of the fungus, which explains why scientific research often fails to confirm the promising premise shown by certain remedies. Take Ageratina pichinchensis extract for example: for centuries, it has been used by Mexicans to remedy fungal infections of the skin without generating skin irritation. Therefore, blending it into a natural anti-fungal treatment seems fairly reasonable, with in vitro results being very promising; however, a research conducted to confirm that assumption delivered a less spectacular outcome, though a follow-up study with patients applying higher concentrations of the substance turned out better results while side effects were indeed very limited.

Another example of that is essential oils. Although essential oils do possess anti-fungal, anti-toxic and anti-biofilm properties, the grasp between natural therapies employing those oils and actual therapeutic results is either tenuous or, at least, not solid enough for the remedies to be considered totally effective (at least in the case of small-scale pilot studies).

Natural coniferous resin lacquer has also been tested, delivering similar, somewhat moderate results: although the resin’s clinical efficacy turned out to be satisfactory, not every individual was able to corroborate its therapeutic traits.

Moving further down the list of fungal remedies is propolis; a sticky, brown substance which bees produce to seal their hives with, it has also demonstrated potent in vitro anti-fungal properties. A study conducted partially confirmed propolis’ healing properties, with more than half of the participants being able to report mycological and clinical healing, while encountering no side effects.

However, it is surprising how random, over-the-counter drugs can sometimes exhibit considerable potential in providing sufferers with onychomycosis treatment. VapoRub, a cough suppressant, incorporating ingredients such as camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol, has been regarded as a welcome and affordable solution, especially for HIV-affected individuals. A study has shown that half the participants were able to enjoy improved clearance on the nails mostly afflicted with fungus. Similar findings were also observed on patients that treated their nails with Vagisil, which contains a dynamic anti-fungal ingredient called Resorcinol, or with apple cider vinegar etc.

In conclusion, natural nail fungus therapies, though popular, are not exactly backed by ample scientific evidence. The studies mentioned above do provide a slightly vague idea on how these remedies work; yet, larger-scale, more meticulously designed tests are needed to ascertain their true value and clarify whether sufferers can truly depend on them in their effort to deal with the burdensome onychomycosis issue.

Toenail fungus and its psychological and social impact on sufferers

It’s not hard to comprehend that, aside from the physical issues, toenail fungus can bring about severe emotional burden to a sufferer. Imagine waking up one day and noticing a slight discoloration on your feet which only gets worse day after day. In fact, it has been proven by studies that this infection can have a devastating effect on people’s everyday life, ranging from a feeling of embarrassment and guilt to completely withdrawing from leisure activities or certain aspects of social life.

Suffering from nail fungus depression?

The usual way most sufferers react to contracting the infection is by simply refraining from wearing sandals or walking barefoot; as toenail fungus can at least be covered with shoes, it is a perceivable, but still not healthy thing to do. Others just choose to ignore the problem, pretending it would go away on its own, yet frustration and embarrassment simply end up gradually building up, leading to internal anguish and torment. On the other hand, other patients, following a more pessimistic attitude, come to grips with the notion of having to live with the issue for the rest of their lives. Finally, most sufferers can’t help but feel the judgmental, scared look coming from those around them who are worried about too picking up the disease. The bottom line for almost all these approaches is an ever-present feeling of shame and culpability, preventing sufferers from engaging in their favorite activities (like yoga or swimming) or simply from leading a normal social life, in hopes that their toenails would remain out of sight.

One doesn’t have to be an expert to figure out that the situation can easily spiral out of control. Therefore, if you are inflicted with toenail fungus, waste no time before you turn to a dermatologist, making sure you discuss the problem with them in a candid and outright manner. Your doctor will definitely help you realize that, first things first, toenail fungus is a disorder half of the people are bound to develop at some point in their lives; consequently, your feelings, though perfectly justifiable, should be combated with the help of some treatment (and, in fact, toenail fungus is usually mild and relatively easy to cure). Early treatment and proper consulting are the keys so that the infection can be dealt with before it spreads to neighbor nails or ends up critically hindering your social and professional life.

What is toenail fungus?

Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a fungal infection which affects toenails (as well as fingernails). Approximately half of the people experiencing nail issues are estimated to be afflicted with this vexatious disease. The fungus initially appears on the free edge of the nail, steadily making its way to the side toward the base. At times, fungal infections can spread to the skin while the opposite scenario is also a possibility. One of the most evident signs through which the ailment typically manifests itself include white, brown or yellow discoloration of one or more toenails, usually accompanied by the nails thickening or cracking.

Although itchiness, redness and discomfort are the main concerns for the majority of sufferers, severe cases may also bring about pain and irreversible toenail damage. As the fungus gradually grows, affected toenails may render walking with shoes on a quite painful experience that can even result in mobility issues. Sometimes, long-term infections may lead to all nail tissues being infected, thus causing the nail even to completely fall off. Since nail fungus doesn’t happen overnight, it is also very unlikely to disappear in an instant unless properly cured. That is why a variety of topical as well as oral anti-fungal treatments are currently available for toenail fungus sufferers, while prompt diagnosis can also contribute to combating the disease and protecting nails from temporary or permanent damage.

Factors that lead to toenail fungus

As the term indicates, a toenail fungus infection is triggered when fungus attacks through a small opening in the nail, which is a point extremely susceptible to the assault owing to bacteria and mold burgeoning there. Following this initial stage, the fungus expands, bringing about inflammation and thickening of the nail.

Despite nail fungus being a fairly ordinary disorder, certain groups of people appear to be more sensitive to it. With fungus thriving in moisture, it comes as no surprise that the individuals most likely to be troubled with toenail fungus are athletes, swimmers etc. due to them excessively sweating and habitually wearing shoes and socks or stepping barefoot around pools. Moreover, the aforementioned also explain why the ailment is more anticipated to harass toenails rather than fingernails; the former’s larger surface and the sealed environment socks and shoes provide account for fungus build-up. The situation is also exacerbated by the fact that feet receive far less attention in terms of washing compared to hands, and the poorer hygiene this is associated with adds to the likelihood of the infection springing up there. Finally, the customary practice of sharing nails clippers, though often downplayed by many individuals, can turn out to be a catastrophic habit in terms of getting toenail fungus.

Overall health status is also related to some individuals being more likely to pick up the infection. For example, people afflicted with diabetes, blood circulation issues, weakened immune system or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are usually more sensitive to nail fungus, while an existing injury of the nail is also an aggravating factor. Finally, even hereditary reasons can sometimes lead to people getting infected; if you happen to have toenail fungus family history, chances are you are more susceptible to developing the infection compared to other individuals with similar lifestyle and hygiene habits.

What are the signs of toenail fungus?

In order to come up with a very basic diagnosis of the infection, the first step involves checking your nails for alterations in their appearance. As mentioned earlier, crumbly or jagged edged nails as well as discoloration are major indications of things taking a turn for the worse on that front. Changes in the nail’s shape is another serious warning sign. Additionally, If the nail feels thicker than it normally does, if it doesn’t feel solid any more or if it seems to be losing its shine, then you should probably wait no more before seeking medical advice. Finally, crumbly and chalky white, yellow or brown debris piling up under the nail is another typical symptom signifying that it’s time to take some action.

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of the infection is vital if you wish to keep it in check and ultimately treat it before it amounts to detrimental extends. After all, toenail fungus is much more than a cosmetic issue; it can critically compromise your everyday routine and lead to distressing situations. So, if some of the above mentioned symptoms seem to be persisting for more than two weeks, chances are you have been infected by toenail fungus and should consult a physician as soon as possible.