1. Who is more prone to toenail fungus?
It’s hard to come up with a direct answer to that question since, give or take, almost anyone can end up getting the infection. In fact, this is a fairly common disorder that has been estimated to affect almost one out of ten adults worldwide. However, it is safe to say that age is the primary factor, since medical issues associated with simply getting older (mainly reduced blood circulation and weakened immune system) provide an enabling environment for fungal infections. Other medical conditions favoring the infection include diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and psoriasis, owing to blood flow to the toes being significantly hampered. Finally, genetic predisposition, intense sports activities or frequent exposure to places teeming with fungus (see below) also raise the possibility of someone picking up the infection.
2. How would I know I’ve been infected?
Nail fungus is easy to spot due to whitish or yellow discoloration emerging under the tip of your toenails. If the situation is not taken care of, fungal infection might expand, bringing about thickened, crumbly or ragged nail edges, debris accumulating underneath it, or go as far as distorting the shape of your nails.
3. Can nail fungus be transmitted to me by others?
Since toenail fungus actually is an infection, it obviously can. In fact, although most people just develop it at some point in their life, they are not at all unlikely to catch it from others. Common ways for that to happen is walking around barefoot in places where fungal infections thrive (e.g. public swimming pools, showers, locker rooms, gyms etc) or sharing nail clippers and similar cosmetics products with other individuals.
4. What can I do to avoid picking up the infection?
Knowing how the fungus develops and spreads dictates, to a significant extent, how to avoid getting it. Although the likelihood of getting infected cannot be totally excluded, avoiding sharing nail clippers or walking barefoot in communal places like the ones mentioned above are certainly steps to the right direction. Wearing shoes that facilitate air circulation, washing your feet on a regular basis and properly drying them afterwards as well as making sure your nails do not grow exceedingly (since fungus tends to prosper underneath them) are also great ways of keeping them safe and healthy.
5. Since nail fungus rarely causes pain, can I just look the other way?
A common misconception among sufferers is that nail fungus is a somewhat second-rate disorder that they can just put up with without any further issues. Moreover, some are confident that their immune system would eliminate the fungus without special treatments needing to be employed. Unfortunately, reduced blood flow to the toenails usually make it hard for the immune system to spot, let alone kill, the infection. And despite severe ramifications being actually rare, it’s not at all unusual for the infection to grow to a point where permanent damage can be inflicted to the infected nail, or for the infection to be diffused to adjacent nails. So, the wise thing to do is try and cure the infection as early as you can. Luckily, in most cases, advancement occurs progressively, and that provides sufferers with a golden opportunity to treat it before the condition gets too serious.
6. How serious can it get?
Although truly nasty complications are sporadic, the infection may indeed expand to a point where even walking with shoes on can become an unpleasant experience. In more extreme cases, permanent damage may be inflicted to your nails, which can in turn result in several worrisome infections spreading beyond your feet. Patients troubled with diabetes or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to these distressing scenarios.
7. Who can help me deal with my nail fungus issue?
The severity of the infection more or less dictates which people you should consult with so that you can deal with the issue. The obvious choice being your family doctor, dermatologists and podiatrists (that is, physicians specifically trained to encounter conditions concerning skin, nail and toenail medical problems) are considered the experts who can safely guide you in getting rid of your infection.
8. Are nail fungus treatments effective?
A variety of anti-fungal drugs are available in the market that can provide sufferers with the arsenal they need to combat the infection. Typically taken orally or applied directly onto nails, these remedies are generally effective, gradually helping restore new healthy, fungus-free nails. A common complaint associated with employing these remedies is that the time needed before improvement can become evident ranges from six months to one and a half year, which in many cases is all it takes to demoralize patients, causing them to give up on their efforts. Finally, overcoming the infection unfortunately does not rule out the possibility of it reemerging (see below).
9. Can a treated nail fungus disorder bounce back?
Sadly, yes. Successfully carrying out your treatment doesn’t not guarantee a trouble-free feet and nails condition for life. So, make sure you don’t ease up on the steps you’ve followed so far, keeping your feet fresh and dry and putting on clean socks or, if possible, socks that are specifically designed to prevent moisture from forming while allowing your feet to breathe. Moreover, stick to wearing sandals or flip flops when walking around so that your hard work won’t go to waste. Finally, make sure you get rid of your old, fungus infested footwear!