What is toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a very common problem. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, yellowing, thickening or crumbling of the nail. It is usually not painful, unless the infection spreads.
How toenail fungus begins?
Toenail fungus often begins as a small spot of white, yellow or green that appears under the nail, typically near the edge. This is often paired with an array of other symptoms that worsen as the infection spreads deeper below the nail. Eventually, the fungus can affect the entire nail, including the nail bed ,the area where the new nail grows from; this causes all new nail growth to be infected as well. If left untreated, toenail fungus can cause cracking, splitting and even complete loss of the toenail.
What are the main causes for toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is often a chronic problem. Once patient develop toenail fungus on one nail, it easily spreads to other nails due to direct contact between the skin of the toes and nails. It can also spread via nail files and clippers, so it’s essential to use separate clippers and nail files on infected nails.
Many people who develop nail fungus get it from polluted pedicure equipment. In fact, nail fungus can spread among a nail salon’s clients if they re-use files, clippers and other equipment, without disinfecting properly.
Individuals who have reduced circulation in the arms and legs – like diabetics and the elderly – are more prone to developing nail fungus.
Also, individuals who suffer from a compromised immune system are more likely to get toenail fungus. In fact, this is one reason why elderly individuals tend to be more prone to developing this condition; senior people often have a weaker immune system, which means the nail’s natural defences against fungal infections are decreased.
Individuals who are on immune suppressant medications, such as with cancer, auto-immune disorders and organ transplant patients, are more prone to toenail fungus. It’s also more common in individuals suffering from psoriasis.
In addition, individuals who are on antibiotics – particularly long courses of antibiotics – are more likely to develop fungal infections, as the antibiotics kill off the body’s bacteria, including beneficial bacteria that serves to keep fungus in check.
How you can get rid of fungal infections?
Here are a few ways how you can get rid of fungal infections:
Systemic anti-fungal medications, available in pill form, are one of the most common and effective treatment approaches. Commonplace medications include clotrimazole, terbinafine and itraconazole. Talk to your doctor to find out if you can use one of these medications.
Topical anti-fungal medications can be painted onto the infected toenails or applied as a cream or ointment. Because of low efficacy topical approach is often paired with systemic anti-fungal drugs. The topical medication is typically painted or rubbed onto the nail twice daily until the entire nail grows out and it’s replaced by a healthy nail – a process that can take up to a year.
Commonplace topical drugs include terbinafine (Lamisil), efinaconazole (Jublia), ciclopirox (Penlac) and compound Emtrix.
Laser treatments, including the Pinpointe-type laser therapy, Fox Diode laser therapy and Noveon-type laser treatment, have been proven to be effective in treating toenail fungus infections by heating and killing fungi, thereby disrupting the infection.
Nd:Yag laser is a is a revolutionary, patient-friendly novel method for treating toenail fungus. It is safe and effective, without side-effects treatment options for those patients who cannot or doesn’t want to use systemic (oral) medications.
The best way to start is to attend you doctor, who will examine the toe, nail and skin, will take a sample if necessary (scrape from underneath the nail or clip a part of nail) and send it to the lab for special fungal culture test.