With the increasing work load, enormously hectic schedule, and fast paced life, it has become almost impossible for everyone to take care of their health. Result of this carelessness is its deterioration and causes of serious issues at very young ages. One of these health issues, that is very common to have is toenail fungus. The reasons for this can be many and can vary from person to person. Wearing the socks for long times, especially during the office hours, prevents your toes from getting outside air and suffocates them. All these things causes fungus to grow up near your toes. If not treated on time, these toes fungi can be harmful. So, there may be one question that will be going through your mind is that how to cure toenail fungus? In this article, we will look into all the primary culprits that are responsible for causing the toenail fungus, and also the ways to treat it through proper medication.
What Are Fungi?
Before learning in details about the toenail fungus, let’s get an overview about the fungi.
According to the medical definition, fungi are those microscopic organisms that do not need any sunlight to remain alive. There are numerous fungi present in the world. Despite the fact that most of the fungi are known to cause infection and illness, there are also fungi that have numerous beneficial uses. Some of the common properties of fungi are:
- They mostly live in moist and warm environments, especially, swimming pools, showers etc.
- If accidentally or knowingly, your nails are getting continuous exposure of warm and moist conditions; fungi can cause a serious problem to them.
- Fungi can also enter into your skin if you have any cut, no matter how small it may be or even from the tiny separations that are present between your nails and nail beds.
How To Know It’s Toenail Fungal Infection?
The toenail fungal infections are primary classified on the basis of their beginning and the affects they cause. Almost all the toenail fungal infections affect the nail plate and the nail beds, i.e. the skin present under the nails and the nails itself. All the toenails fungus infections slowly and gradually increases and become worse as the time passes by. There are various factors on which the growth of toenail fungus depends. Let’s have a look on those factors.
- If you are suffering from the toenail fungus, then the growth of the fungus will be slow. As the nails of the toes grow more slowly, hence, the fungus also grows slowly.
- High amount of heat and humidity are the positive factors for the toenail fungus growth. Therefore, if there is great amount of heat and moisture inside your house or the places near your toes, then there are fair chances that you may get a toenail fungus infection.
- The other important factor on which the growth of toenail fungus depends is how strong your immune system is? Because, the stronger your immune system, the better its strength to stop the burgeoning toenail fungus.
Some of the important signs that will tell you that it is toenail fungus infection are that your skin under the nail, also known as nail bed, will be damaged, broken, discolored or may get thickened a bit. It is advisable that you do not take the toenail fungus infection lightly, and get it treated as soon as possible. If not treated on time, it can spread to the other parts of nail and also may get worse. The other parts it may spread to can be your nail bed or even some other parts of skin surrounding your nail. With the passing time, the nail can become severely infected that it may fall out completely because of the infection.
In the majority of the cases, the toenail fungus infection can be treated successfully, but there are some types that can be treated a bit easily than the others. For example, the most common type of toenail fungus infection is distal subungual onychomycosis, which is very hard to treat and affect your nails for your complete life. There is another type of infection, known as, white superficial onychomycosis, is not so difficult to treat. Some of the toenail fungus infections are easy to treat but after treating the infections, your nails can take long time to come back to their normal shapes and appearance. One thing that you must not forget about the toenail fungus infection is that once treated, they may return and affect the nails again. The majority of the people who have been treated for the toenail fungus infections with the antifungal pills, out of them around 15% to 20% cases have got the infection again within the span of one year.
Not always you will get the fungus infection. There are various cases in which a person’s nails have been affected by the bacterial infection. In common terms, we can say that the bacterial infection is a complication of normal fungal nail infection. One type of common bacterial infection is acute paronychia that can cause swelling of the tissues and skin near your toenails and also the inflammation.
What Increases The Risk Of Infection?
There are certain factors which increases the risk of getting a toenail fungus infection for you. Please read carefully all the factors, so that you can protect yourself before getting the infection.
- If your age is more than 60 years, then you should be very careful.
- If you are a diabetic or have a weak immune system then the chances that you may get the infection are very high.
- Try to avoid wearing the shoes that moist your feet or make your feet sweaty, because moist and sweat is one of the primary reasons for toenail fungus infection.
- Also be very careful if you are living in place that is extremely hot or humid.
When You Need A Doctor?
Not all the cases require a doctor’s call. But if you see any of the following symptoms, immediately take an appointment with your doctor:
- If your nails have feeling of heat, tenderness, increased pain, redness, or heat.
- If you see the read streaks that are extending from the area of infection.
- If there is a pus discharge from the infected area.
- If you are having a fever of around 100.4 degree F or 38 degree Celsius, and no other problems.
Moreover, if you are feeling that your symptoms are becoming troublesome day by day, and then also immediately call your doctor. Some of these symptoms are the ones that may require the doctor’s appointment:
- Your infected area is extremely painful.
- If you are having the toenail fungus infection, then your toenail may get thickened sometimes and can cause discomfort to you.
- While having infections, your nails may be in irregular shapes and sizes that may start concerning you, and then these are the clear indications that it’s the time to go for a doctor’s visit.
- If you see that your toenail fungus infection is spreading within the nail, nail-bed or even the surrounding skin, then it is recommended that you go to your doctor. Your nails can get properly checked in a doctor’s clinic and also the doctor may tell the recommended ways to treat the infection.
Till When You Should Wait?
If you are lucky enough, then your infection may get cured on your own and in such case you do not have to worry at all and also do not need any treatment. But, if your condition is getting worse day by day, then you should visit your doctor so that he can decide and let you know what the best solution to your problem is. If your nail is only damaged or discolored, and not causing any pain then there is no need to treat the infection. Many physicians do not recommend the antifungal medicines, as they do not guarantee the cure and also are very expensive. Moreover, these antifungal medicines can cause potentially dangerous side effects. However, it is always advisable that you get your infection treated because, if not treated on time, may cause permanent damage to your nails.
Some of the specialists you can visit to get your toenail fungus infection treated are the following:
- Family Medicine Doctors
- Internal Medicine Doctors
- Nurse Practitioners
- Physician Assistants
What To Exam & Test?
When you will visit your doctor, he may ask numerous questions from you to get the proper idea of the scenario, so that your toenail fungus infection can be treated properly. Let’s look at some of the questions that he may ask from you while your visit:
- He may ask from you about your medical history that can also include the previous symptoms, if any, related to the nails’ damage or the infections related to the same.
- He may take some samples of your nail fragments, also known as debris, and also of your skin from the nail bed. There may be times when the sample of your debris is not possible to take comfortably. In such cases, the doctors prefer taking the sample of your nail by scraping it lightly, from near the infected area, or shave off a small piece of nail by using the blade.
- The doctors may also look at the various areas of your skin and nails on your hands and feet.
Some the test that are used to examine the debris and nails samples collected from you can be:
Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) Preparation
This preparation is made to check whether the infection that is present on your nails is caused by fungi or not. It is an easy test and can be comfortably performed in doctor’s office or clinic.
It is used to check the type of fungus that is present on your toenail bed and the surrounding skin. This is a slow and long process because of the slow growth of the fungi.
Fungi That Causes Toenail Fungus Infection
The majority of the toenail fungus infections are caused by a fungus called dermatophyte. Therefore, if the KOH test shows that your infection has been caused by the fungus, then almost all the doctors presumes that the dermatophyte are the culprit for it and based on these results he will prescribe the treatment. However, there are numerous antifungal medicines available in the market, and every medicine has their own pros and cons. Therefore, there may be times when your doctor can go for a fungal culture when unsure about the fungi present near your nails and the nail bed.
How To Treat Toenail Fungus Infection?
There are numerous treatments available for the toenail fungus infection. However a typical treatment starts with the consumption of antifungal medicines. Apart from these medicines, in some cases, gel, cream or nail polishes are also used.
You can go for the antifungal pills, which you can take orally, if your infection is in moderate to severe condition, or is very hard to treat. These oral pills have the best probability to cure the infection.
As told earlier, there are also numerous creams, gels etc. are present. You can go for these when your infection is in mild-to-moderate condition and they also prevent the infection from returning. Moreover, they also help in the prevention of athlete’s foot from spreading to the nails. But there are chances that these medicines may not work as same as the oral ones.
One more cure for the cases where the infection is in its high condition is to remove the infected nail. In this way the recurrence of the infection can be treated effectively. But there are rare circumstances where the nail removal is required.
Whatever may be the condition is, it is always recommended that you visit your doctor and get your infection properly inspected and treated and avoid any of the self treatments techniques.