Toenail and Foot Fungus Specialist Questions and Answers

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Toenail and Foot Fungus Specialist Questions and Answers
Toenail and Foot Fungus Specialist Questions and Answers

What Causes Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is common and can affect one or more of toenails and is caused by various fungal organisms. The most common is a type of fungus called dermatophyte, but certain kinds of yeast and molds can also be culprits. Exposure to an environment with this kind of fungi, such as through unclean tools at a nail salon, or other unsanitary conditions can be the cause of toenail fungus. One risk factor for nail fungus is age. As you age, your toenails may naturally become more brittle, causing cracks that more easily allow fungi to enter the nail.

Conditions like diabetes, issues with circulation, or a weakened immune system can also contribute to the development toenail fungus. Lifestyle factors, like walking barefoot in communal showers or on pool decks, or wearing tight-fitting shoes, can also lead to a fungal infection. If you have foot fungus, commonly known as athlete’s foot, it may spread to the nail and cause toenail fungus.

How can You Tell if You Have Toenail or Foot Fungus?

Toenail fungus typically first appears as a white or yellow spot, usually under the tip of the nail. As it progresses, the nail becomes thick, misshapen, and further discolored, and it could begin to crumble. The thickening may be uncomfortable and even painful.

Foot fungus, or athlete’s foot, is usually first seen between the toes, as a dry, scaly rash that is red and white in color. The other main symptom is itching, which is usually most noticeable after you take off your shoes and socks. In fact, it is called an athlete’s foot because a common cause is wearing tight-fitting shoes and sweating in them for long periods of time. The dry, scaly rash can spread to the bottom and sides of the feet.

How is Toenail and Foot Fungus Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose toenail or foot fungus, a health care provider will examine the skin and nails on your feet to determine the severity. With toenail fungus, they may take samples of the nail and debris from underneath it to send to a lab, so they can determine what type of fungus is causing the issue.

Toenail fungus can be difficult to cure, and often the first course of action is self-care which involves basic hygiene measures and over the counter remedies. There are various products available, such as creams that are applied daily, which can treat the infection, along with trimming and thinning the nail down to relieve pressure. If self-care remedies aren’t working, your physician may prescribe oral antifungal drugs or medicated nail polish. In some cases, temporary or permanent removal of the nail may be necessary.

Diagnosis and treatment for foot fungus is similar. The care provider will assess the severity of the infection and either recommend over the counter or prescription treatments.

What Happens if You Leave Toenail Fungus Untreated?

In some cases, the toenail fungus may be mild and not causing any issues. However, the infection can spread and worsen, causing toenails to become brittle and crumble or crack, leading to pain and discomfort. Even if the toenail fungus isn’t bothering you, it is best to seek treatment and the advice of a healthcare professional, as nail fungus can be more difficult to address if left untreated.