Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Many types of fungus are common in our environment. Among them are the dermatophytes, a group of opportunistic parasitic plant organisms, similar to molds or mildew, that, lacking chlorophyll, do not require sunlight for growth. Sweaty tennis shoes and moist socks create the perfect conditions for them. The funguses thrive in a warm, moist, dark environment and they eat the protein keratin that our skin produces. Although funguses may be present in the skin around the nails, one may not develop a nail infection without history of injury, such as bruised nails from short shoes, inflammation from an ingrown nail, or from cutting the nails incorrectly or too short.
In other words, the organisms do not invade intact, healthy, normal skin or nails. Other contributing factors would be excessive perspiration, and Dermatophytosis (Athlete's Foot), which is caused by similar fungi. Some individuals appear to be more susceptible to infection. These would include those with medical conditions such as diabetes and poor circulation and HIV. For that reason, even if treatment is successful in eliminating the condition, the susceptible person may become re-infected in the future.
Toenail Fungus Treatment
First of all, the doctor will do a physical examination to determine if there is a fungus present and not some other kind of medical condition. After determining the type of fungus, treatment may range from topical solutions to oral, systemic medications to more effective laser treatment.
The treatment option you choose with your doctor will depend on your goals. How quickly you want to be rid of the fungus, other health concerns will all be factors to determine the best treatment.
There are topical, oral and laser treatment options. Oral treatments involve a pill. Like any medication, there are side effects associated with medication. Some people are not candidates or choose to not take oral medications. Another option is topical treatments where you brush on a medication straight on the nails. Lastly, there is laser and Keryflex. This option doesn't have any side effects and is the most effective option.
Preventing Toenail Fungus
You may be asked to treat the insides of your shoes, which have become contaminated by the fungus. This is to make sure that the new healthy nail doesn't become contaminated by any fungus hiding in the shoe. To prevent the fungus infection from coming back, the best offense is a good defense. We must control moisture and create a drier environment for your feet. Use powder in shoes, to absorb perspiration. Avoid synthetic or nylon socks that trap, rather than absorb perspiration. Cotton socks absorb moisture and wick it away from the skin and nails. Keeping your feet dry and protected from injury is essential to avoid any fungus infections.
If you have been cutting your nails too deeply, or treating an ingrown nail on your own, this may have allowed the fungus to grow under the nail. If shoes have become contaminated while you had the condition, they may be sanitized by spraying them with a topical antifungal spray, to prevent a recurrence of the Fungal Nail condition.