Most of us are familiar with the image of discolored, brownish, brittle toenails that may go as far as even eventually separate from the nail bed. But toenail fungus can turn out to be more than just a cosmetic issue: if not treated properly, the infection may spread primarily to other toenails, then to surrounding skin (an ailment known as athlete’s foot) and even work its way to other parts of the body, the bloodstream or genitalia!
Here’s a brief list of the potential internal toenail fungus hazard spots:
Although less common compared to toenail fungus, fingernail fungus is a possibility. Two particularly worrisome aspects of it are the speed in which fingernail fungus can spread and how difficult it is for the sufferer to conceal the problem.
Body & Skin
Toenail fungus can lead to ringworm developing. The disease manifests itself through red rashes which can affect large patches of your skin and body. Apart from the evident cosmetic issues, ringworm is a hazard to other people, since direct contact with others can pass it on easily.
Severe toenail fungus cases, poor treatment, weak immune system owing to HIV or diabetes issues might enable the fungus to seep into the deeper skin and enter the bloodstream, ultimately bringing about issues like fatigue, fever and flu-like symptoms. Still, it can get far worse by triggering blood poisoning (or septicemia): if bacteria levels soar, the condition can even claim the patient’s life! And despite the chances of a healthy person ending up with a fungal blood infection (let alone dying from it) being relatively low, there is no point in a toenail fungus sufferer ignoring a problem that can have such dire consequences.
Putting on underwear that occasional touches infected toenails does raise the likelihood of the infection growing and affecting a patient’s genitals. Known as jock itch, this disease mostly affects men and may diffuse to the groin area and sometimes the inner thighs, necessitating proper treatment.
Although it is deemed unlikely for an otherwise healthy person with toenail fungus issues to develop a bone infection, it is still possible for nail fungus to invade someone’s bones (an ailment known as osteomyelitis) and generate severe health issues.
Toenail fungus is not a superficial health problem that will eventually recede on its own. If left untreated, it can progress to a real nuisance, inducing pain and even lead to some of the aforementioned alarming conditions. So, if you suspect you have been infected, consult a dermatologist or a podiatrist who can identify the problem and work out the best possible solution (whether that would be prescription medication or OTC drugs) for curing it.