Toenail fungus isn’t easy to deal with. It’s embarrassing, difficult to treat, and easy to get. (Plus, it’s easy to spread if you’re not careful.) Some types of infections go away on their own, but that’s not the case with fungus. You can’t simply wish it away. But if you know what to watch for, you can catch fungus early, start treatment right away, and make sure that it’s gone for good.
What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection of the nail caused by dermatophyte fungi, the same fungus that causes ringworm and athlete’s foot. This group of fungi needs keratin for growth. And since your toenails are made from keratin, they are an ideal place for fungi to thrive. Keratin in your hair and skin can also become infected.
What are the Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
The sooner you notice symptoms of toenail fungus, the easier they are to treat. Fungal infections aren’t always obvious in the early stages, and you may only notice you have one after the infection has already progressed.
You may have fungal nails if they are:
- Crumbly or brittle
- White or yellow-brown in color
How did I get Toenail Fungus?
Certain factors put you at a higher risk of fungal toenails.
Older people are at a higher risk of developing fungus. As we get older, nails become dry and crack. Then fungi enter through these cracks and start to grow.
Fungi like moist environments, especially sweaty toes.
Going Barefoot in Public
You can pick up fungi from infected skin cells. If you walk around barefoot in a communal shower or locker room, you’re more likely to come into contact with skin cells from an infected person.
Another Fungal Infection
Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection from the same type of fungus that infects your toenails. If you have Athlete’s foot or another type of foot fungus, it can spread to your toenails if not promptly treated.
Weakened Immune System
For someone with a weakened immune system, their body may not be capable of fighting off a fungal infection.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Here are a couple of good options to get rid of fungal nails:
Antifungal pills are often the first choice for treatment, as they are usually the most effective. The course of treatment usually lasts 12 weeks. You will see the results slowly as the new healthy nail grows in—and this takes many months! So be patient. Also, your physician may need to order blood tests to monitor your liver function.
Topical treatments for toenail fungus may be in the form of a cream or a nail polish. You need to apply these medications daily for up to a year before you notice results. You may increase the effectiveness by thinning the affected nails with a file before treatment.
What Can I Do to Make Sure the Fungus Stays Gone After Treatment?
Since it’s difficult to eliminate fungus, once it’s gone, you’ll want to make sure it’s gone forever.
Take these steps to help ensure it won’t return:
- Change your shoes and socks every day.
- Make sure sweaty shoes dry completely before wearing them again.
- Use antifungal sprays and powders on your feet and in your shoes.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes.
- Periodically use topical antifungal medications.
- Wash your feet daily.
- Only wear your own shoes and socks.
- Always wear footwear in public.
- Only use your own nail care tools.
Start Your Path to Clear Nails and Make an Appointment Today!
If you suspect you have toenail fungus, don’t wait to seek treatment. Book an appointment with Midwest Podiatry Centers to effectively get rid of fungus and make sure it stays gone.