If you think that nail fungus are something that shouldn’t alarm you, then think again.
In a recent research conducted, it has been found out that cases of nail fungus, most especially toenail fungus are rapidly increasing. Every year, cases of persons suffering from this infection are increasing, and nail fungus, if not treated immediately, may cause more complicated infections especially for those who are diabetic and hypertensive.
Out of the 1,800 people that participated in the research conducted by medical professionals, 14% have been diagnosed with nail fungus characterized by discoloration and thick nails which is also confirmed through a nail-clipping test performed by the research team.
Past studies have report rates of constant increase of nail fungus around the world. It is very alarming that the infection is constantly increasing because the infection can be passed from person to person. And also, the rate of 14% is considered to be an underestimate, because a lot of people have been suffering from the infection, without them knowing, so in reality, the rate should be around 25-35%. Pretty alarming right?
If you want to prevent yourself and your family from experiencing nail fungus, then this comprehensive article will teach everything you need to know about the infection.
Nail fungus or also known as onychomycosis is a condition that occurs when microscopic fungus penetrates fingernails or toenails. In most cases, toe nails are the ones who suffer from this infection.
This infection is mostly seen in male adults; although any sex or age can suffer from the infection, especially foot fungus, which will be discussed as you read on.
First of all, you need to know the disadvantages of having nail fungus infections;
- Decrease blood circulation in your feet, hands and nails
- Slower mobility – sometimes toenail fungus infections makes walking a very hard task.
- Further bacterial infections such as acute paronychia which causes inflammation and swelling of the skin near the affected area.
Persons who have diabetes and are hypertensive are in high risk if they suffer from fungus infections. This is because the process of healing fungus infection is slow itself, and with diabetes and hypertension the process is even slower making it very susceptible for further complications, etc.
So what are the causes of nail fungus?
Our body normally hosts a lot of bacteria and fungi. There are bacteria and fungi that are useful for our bodies and its’ operation. And there are also those bacteria and fungi that just feed and stay in our system without giving us any benefit, they are called parasites. And these parasite fungi are the ones who cause nail fungus.
There are mainly three different kinds of fungus that can cause nail fungal;
Dermatophytes – these are the type of fungi that causes athlete’s foot. They can grow on skin, hair and on nails. These fungi only invade the outer layers of the tissues and do not go deeper. These fungi can be found on clothes, shoes, nail clippers, carpets, locker rooms and etc.
Yeasts – these are fungi that can be found on the body and grows on skin and nails. Illness, use of contraceptive pills, and having a weak systems are some of the factors that increases the growth of yeasts in the body causing the infection.
Molds – these fungi are usually found in the soil and in spoil foods. They can grow in nails and skin. However, these type of fungi can’t be passed from one person to another.
The nail fungus infection occurs;
When a small cut or break happens in our nails, these nail fungus immediately enters that part causing the infection. Assumptions that poor hygiene may lead to nail fungus are proven to be wrong. There is no scientific evidence that poor hygiene can lead to nail fungus. Although, it is right that nail fungus can be spread from one person to another through contact with the infected nails.
Most nail fungus infections are seen in adult men, especially in their feet, which is called fungal infection because adult men are usually more sweaty and athletic than women. Thus, their toenails are more prone into having cuts and breaks than women who don’t usually where shoes and the like. Take note that fungi can rapidly grow in wet and warm places like locker rooms and shoes of men.
Additional activities that can increase the cause of nail fungus are the following;
- Getting your manicures and pedicures done using equipment or utensils that have already been used on other people. Remember, that some of the fungi that cause the infection can be transferred from people to people.
- Minor or major skin and nail injuries.
- Nail diseases, deformities and other disorders
- Weak immune system
- Closed in footwear, wearing closed in footwear will make your feet sweaty which is a good place for the fungi to grow
Toenail fungus symptoms
Now that you are enlightened with the causes of nail fungus, you will now need to know the common symptoms of the infection;
Well, there are different kinds of nail fungus that have been classified according to the type of fungus infection a person is suffering. Although, the infection doesn’t cause any pain at all, it definitely will cause a lot of discomfort for the person suffering it. Below are the types of nail fungus infection and their symptoms;
The most common nail fungus infection suffered by most people is distal subungual onychomycosis, which is caused by dermatophytes. It mainly invades and affects both the nail and the nail bed (the skin under the nail). This infection’s symptoms are the following;
- Yellow coloration in the nail bed and the undersides of the affected nail/s. (Yellow toenails)
- Presence or emergence of bits of nails, of which are mostly dead nails, inside the nails or in the nail bed
- A very thick and discolored nail that is separated or may separate with the nail bed. (Black toenails)
- A very brittle, thick and broken nail.
The second most common nail fungus infection suffered is white superficial onychomycosis, it is the infection of the nail plate or surface only. It doesn’t affect the skin underneath the nail or the nail bed, although it is also caused by dermatophytes. It’s symptoms include the following;
- White spots, horizontal lines in the nail plate.
- If the infection gets worse, the nail plate can be very soft and powdery.
- Brown or gray coloration of the nail
- Damaged and brittle nail but will not separate with the nail bed.
However, if additional symptoms arise in your nail fungus infection, then it is best recommended for you to see a doctor immediately in order to prevent further complications.
On the other hand, if you have the common symptoms of nail fungus infection, then you can personally cure yourself off the infection. Below are useful tips on nail fungus care or toenail fungus and nail fungus treatment;
The most standard medication for nail fungus infections is by applying antifungal medicines in the nails that are affected.
Oral medicines (Anti fungal pills) have the best chance of curing the infection, although constant monitoring is necessary in order to immediately notice any dangerous side effects that may cause worse complications. This type of treatment is usually advised to persons who have moderate – severe cases of nail fungus infection. This type of medication will cost a lot of money.
Anti fungal topical medicines, which includes lotions, creams, gels and the likes. They are safer nail fungus or toenail fungus care options for persons who have mild cases of nail fungus infection. They are used by applying the product in the affected area and in their borders and sides to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the skin. These products are usually available over the counter. Also, they are less effective compared to Oral medicines but are of course safer and a lot cheaper.
If by chance that you are unable to undergo any of the toenail fungus treatments because of worse cases, then it is best recommended for you to remove the affected nails with the help of professionals. Although, the re-growth of nails may take a long time, it will surely be worth the wait if it means treating the fungi infection and ridding of the possible complication.
There are two ways of removing the nail, one is by the use of ointment in order to dissolve the nail and the other is by surgically removing it.
And also, if all toenail fungus home remedies doesn’t work on the infection, and other symptoms are still coming then it is best for you to immediately consult a doctor and ask for a professional advice. Remember that nail fungus infection can lead to deadlier infections, thus, if the following occurs, immediately go to a doctor;
- Swelling, heat in the nails, tenderness and increased pain
- Discharge of fluids, (maybe brownish or blood)
- Extension of red streaks
- Fever, colds, etc, with no cause
- Spreading of the infection
- Odd appearance
- And additional discomforts
Now that we have finished discussing the treatment options available to cure your nail fungus infection. I will now share you with you simple and useful tips for you to prevent nail fungus infection from coming back – ever again!
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How to prevent nail fungus infection from coming back or invading your nails.
Below are very useful tips that will surely help you in preventing nail fungus infection from causing discomfort and pain in your lives.
- Always keep your nails trimmed short
- Always thin areas in your skin that are thick to prevent fungi from inhabiting it
- Have a separate cleaning utensils for your fingernails and toenails
- Keep a complete nail cleaning set
- Don’t use the same nail clippers on healthy nails and unhealthy nails to prevent transferring of fungi.
- When going to parlors, always bring your own manicure and pedicure set
- When doing wet works, always wear waterproof gloves and boots to prevent development moisture in your nails. Feet is usually prone to moisture, thus always pay attention to the cleaning and maintaining of the dryness of your feet.
- Wear 100% cotton socks, it will help absorb the sweat and moisture from your feet. Whenever you feel that your socks are wet and damp, immediately remove them and clean and wipe dry your feet to prevent fungi build up.
- Wear shoes that have wide space for your toes to breath, this will prevent moisture or at least lessen it.
- Wearing of pointed shoes is discouraged
- In wet and moist areas, avoid walking in barefoot to prevent yourself from collecting fungi in the floor.
- If possible, wear shower shoes, sandals or flip flops when going to public areas such as swimming pool locker rooms or community rooms
- Always keep your feet and hands dry, let them breathe.
- Before going to bed, always wash your feet and hands thoroughly and dry them.
- Using of anti fungal powders for your feet is also recommended. This will help you keep your feet dry and prevent fungi build up. Before wearing socks, apply anti fungal powders.
- Don’t share shoes and sandals with others. It is always better to have your own set of shoes and not share to prevent fungi from transferring from one place to another and grow themselves.
- And most importantly, don’t injure your nails, nail beds, and nail plates.
- And if it happens, be sure to quickly treat it with proper medications.
With the tips and how to’s I have given you, you will certainly be able to lessen the chances if not prevent it, of having your nails infected by fungus.
Remember that nail fungus infection can complicate to more deadlier infections, that is why knowing everything about it, from causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention is very important for you to prevent it from happening. With this comprehensive article, you will certainly be able to prepare yourself in battling nail fungus infection. And also just to to remind you, prevention is better than cure.
Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus
Medical procedures nowadays are simple and easy. Thanks to the advancement of technology in the realm of medicine. One such instance of these is the laser treatment. This kind of treatment has been a popular way of removing unwanted blemishes on the face. This kind of treatment, too, has also restored impaired visions, as in Lasik. It has also been known for removing unnecessary hair follicles. Now there’s another use for laser in medicine, and this is the laser treatment for toenail fungus. Due to the fact that oral medication, topical solutions and homeopathic procedures do not sometimes help in keeping the toenail fungus at bay, this has been seen as the new alternative to fighting toenail fungus that has been affecting more than 20 million American adults.
Fungal toenail infection, also known as onychomycosis in medical terms, are usually acquired genetically, but mostly, people who are sports-minded and have active lifestyles are the ones who get the infection. Unnecessary care for the feet, such as going barefoot in dirty pavements and moist feet, are one of the main causes for accumulating the fungus.
It would start out as a mild cosmetic problem, and can be treated with nail lacquer to cover it up. In the long run, though, the fungi would spread in the other parts of the toenail, making it look ugly and painful. Prescription drugs are known to eliminate the fungus, but it has its own side effects. Because of this, the recent discovery of toenail fungus laser treatment was deemed as an alternative solution for such an infection.
The procedure is simple and painless as one would think otherwise. A small nail fungus laser device is placed directly on the infected toenail. The heat of the laser then infiltrates the nail. The duration of this treatment is estimated to be 30 to 45 minutes long, depending on the number of toenails to be treated. Since this is a painless procedure, the toenail and its surrounding skin are unharmed, and because of this, there are no age or health restrictions for this kind of procedure.
The cost of a toenail fungus laser treatment may range from as low as £600 to £1,300. However, this medical procedure is not covered by insurance. Whatever the cost, the treatment is a one-time deal and creates immediate results. Though the toenail won’t right away change back to its previous form before the infection, it has been proven that the fungal infection is removed right on the onset of the treatment.
Toenail Fungus Home Remedies
Toenail fungus home remedy can also be performed in treating this disease. You need to soak the infected part in the mixture of water and vinegar. Do this up to 20 minutes or you can let your feet immerse into the solution a bit longer than the said time. The acidity of the vinegar will prevent the growth of the fungus. The Apple Cider vinegar for toenail fungus is more effective than the regular one. Remember that this is contagious. After soaking, wipe it with a clean and dry cloth. Do not include the toes yet. Let it absorb the vinegar solution. This can be done up until the symptom disappeared.
Others do it in another way. The water and vinegar are put in separate basins. You need to wash your feet in the basin filled with hot water first. Dry it up thoroughly using a towel or an absorbent paper. After doing so, you may now submerge your feet in the other basin which has vinegar. Stay in it for about 20 minutes or so. This is a natural toenail fungus treatment.
Other thing that you can do is to use Hydrogen Peroxide. Spray it on your feet. This will help to eliminate the bad odor caused by the fungus. Do not mix the vinegar and the Hydrogen Peroxide due to it will result to increased skin peeling.
Another nail fungus home remedy is simply filing the nail to remove the infected part. Though it is recommended to use broken glass to file this infection, one can use a nail file if the pain is unbearable. Just make sure that the file used for the infection will be sterilized and will be disposed after use to avoid infection to others. This remedy is associated with White superficial Onychomycosis.
Another natural cure for nail fungus is the Tea Tree oil. The Tea Tree oil or the Melaleuca oil is a natural antibacterial disinfectant. It is used as an antiseptic. Also, it has a usage for cosmetics. Its color is pale yellow to clear essential oil and the scent is the same as camphor or others say nutmeg. The produce is from the Melaleuca alternifolia, a big native shrub from Australia. The leaves are being steamed. Afterwards, it will be squeezed so that the oil will come out.
Based on studies, it is good in skin care and can be more effective than the antibiotics. It is used to cure head lice, acne, dandruff, yeast infection, and fungal infection. There are some studies that showed Tea Tree oil is also an antiviral and an antimicrobial treatment.
Tea Tree oil for toenail fungus is more efficient if it will be applied twice daily for six months. It is simple to follow. You need to have a cotton balls or cotton buds whichever is available. Dip it in the oil then apply it on the affected part. You may want to do this in the morning after you take a bath and before going to bed. It can cause rashes for some people who have delicate skin especially if it is not well diluted. Make sure to dilute it in another liquid or base to avoid skin irritation.
A reminder for everyone, though it has medical benefits, it is toxic when it is taken orally. Be sure to keep it in a safe place so that young people especially toddlers will not be able to play on it. If a person accidentally swallowed it, it may cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucination, coma, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and abnormalities on the blood cells. If in any case this happens, seek for medical attention right away.
If you do not have Tea Tree oil, you can use Oregano and Olive oil. Get a basin. Mix two drops of Oregano oil with one teaspoon of Olive oil. Apply it regularly but not more than three weeks.
You can also partner it with Lavender oil. The Lavender helps to prevent infections and skin irritation. Blend the Lavender oil and the Tea Tree oil then get a cotton balls and dip in the mixture. Apply it on the area that is affected by the fungus.
A person with toenail fungal infection can use mouth wash like Listerine and alcohol. It has the same procedure as the vinegar. You need to soak the infected part in the basin with Listerine or alcohol for about 20 minutes.
Some believe that using Vicks Vaporub is also effective in preventing the growth of the fungus. There is really no evidence of the efficacy of Vicks but others are still doing it. You could try this out but since there is no proof, there is no guarantee that it will take effect.
Undecylenic acid for nail fungus is one more way of treating it. It is a derivative of castor oil; an organic unsaturated fatty acid that is approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over the counter toenail fungus treatment and other skin disorders. This eliminates itchiness and irritation. Check the label if there are ingredients that you are allergic to it. If you find one, do not forget to tell it to your doctor so that he will find another cure for your fungal infection. Furthermore, you also need to mention to your physician if you possess the following conditions:
- If you are pregnant, are breast-feeding, and are planning to get pregnant
- If you are diabetic
- If you are taking other medications
This is to ensure that Undecylenic acid will not react with other medicines that may affect your health.
If the above scenarios do not cure your fungal disease, your doctor might recommend for you to undergo surgery. These days, this is the last resort especially when everything that has been recommended failed. In addition to that, surgery will be pursued if the case causes severe pain. The surgeon or the doctor will remove the affected toenail and a new nail will grow back usually within a year.