Definition of Nail Fungus
An infection is caused when one or more fungi infect one or more nails. The infection begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the finger or toenails. As the infection spreads and increases the nail will discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges. Toenail fungus (Onychomycosis) should not be mistaken for athletes foot (Tinea cruris)
Risks for Nail Fungus
The medical term for nail fungus is onychomycosis and is a greater risk for older adults due in some part to decreased circulation but can also develop when people perspire heavily, work in humid or moist environments or have psoriasis.
Wearing shoes that don’t allow the foot to breathe properly or don’t absorb perspiration can increase the likelihood of nail fungus.
Other infections such as athlete’s foot, minor skin injury, or damaged nails can increase the potential for nail fungus. Diabetes, circulation, or immune system weakness can also increase the risk of fungus infections in nails.
Complications from Toe Nail Fungus
For many people, toenail fungus will be painful, annoying, and perhaps embarrassing but treatment will have little or no long-term complications. But for diabetics or those with weakened immune systems such as leukemia patients, AID patients, or those who have had an organ transplant, a toenail fungus infection can cause more severe complications. The risk is that circulation or immune system weakness can create nerve damage or cellulitis, which is a potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Any infection, even minor can create major complications in these patients.
Treatments for Toe Nail Fungus
There are plenty of over-the-counter ointments, creams, and topical treatments for toenail fungus with a wide range of success rates. According to the Mayo Clinic, the effectiveness of most of these products is limited.
Physicians may prescribe oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or Itraconazole (Sporanox). The oral antifungal may be more likely to be prescribed if you are diabetic, at risk for cellulitis, or are experiencing pain with the infection.
Other treatment options could include antifungal lacquer which is painted on like nail polish. Topical creams with antifungal medication bases may be prescribed. If the damage is severe surgery may be used to remove the nail. Photodynamic treatment, using lasers to irradiate the nail after treatment with acid is also a frequent treatment.
Natural Healing Treatments and Prevention for Toe Nail Fungus
Keeping nails short, dry, and clean is essential. Don’t trim the skin around the nail as it will give germs access to the area. If you use a professional salon for manicures and pedicures research to assure that sanitization methods are followed or bring your instruments for them to use.
Nail polish and artificial nails can contribute to nail fungus, consider reducing the use of both or having intervals of time when no polish or artificial nails are used.
Some experts suggest the use of vinegar soaks to cure toenail fungus. It is important to rinse well and dry the skin completely.
Good hygiene including thorough drying between toes and fingers will prevent or reduce the likelihood of an infection occurring.