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.
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.
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.