Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a fungal infection underneath your nail. Debris can connect beneath the nail plate, called subungual debris. A fungal infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, skin, or even your fingernails. An ignored fungal infection can spread and impair your ability to perform daily life activities, like walking. This infection can also be accompanied by a bacterial or yeast infection at the nail plate or around it.
It is difficult to avoid microscopic organisms like fungi, but it helps to know what causes it. The toenails are especially vulnerable around:
Toenail fungus can be present for years without causing pain, so it is important to take note of any changes in your toenail’s quality and/or color. It is common that this fungus is ignored because there is often no pain associated with it. If you notice one of theses symptoms, a good idea would be to get an appointment with a podiatrist:
Having a routine of cleansing your feet over a period of months can suppress mild infections. The white markings on the nail can be filed off, and you can try applying an over the counter liquid antifungal. Although even the best over the counter medications may not prevent the fungus from coming back.
Anytime you notice discoloration, thickening, or deformity of your toenails, you should visit a podiatrist. The earlier you seek treatment, the greater chance you have of getting the nails to become clear of fungus and debris.
Treatment options vary with the severity of toenail fungus. A podiatrist can determine the cause of a fungal infection by performing a lab test which helps him/her determine a suitable treatment plan. Treatment plans consist of things like topical or oral medication or debridement, removal of diseased/unhealthy nail matter and debris.
Trying to treat a fungal infection at home without the aid of a podiatrist, can lead to more issues. Often, the treatment of this is successful since this is a common issue for many people.
The main way to prevent a fungal infection is to practice hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes. Clean, dry feet often do resist any fungal growth.
If you suspect you may have athlete’s foot, a fungal infection commonly seen as white, circular lesions appearing on your feet, you should seek treatment for this as well, as fungus can spread to your nails. You’ll want to avoid applying polish to any nails you suspect may have fungus or are discolored.