Toenail Fungal Infection: Why It Happens and How to Avoid and Treat It



Among the various nail and skin infections that exist, fungal infections are some of the most common. Toenail fungus in particular, is more common as compared to the rest, since there are more ways someone can contract in. A fungal infection on the toenails can be due to a number of reasons, seeing as there are several types of toenail infections. However, they are all the same, more or less, when it comes to symptoms, causes and plausible treatments.


When the fungus has already developed to a stage where it can become an inconvenience and discomfort, it can very easily be recognized and distinguished, even by the untrained eye. There are telltale signs of fungus and deformity, which gradually spread to other areas, and even other people, if the condition is left unchecked and untreated for a longer period of time. However, at the earlier stages, or at least before the majority of the advanced symptoms have manifested, it is very hard to detect. Following is why.


 Why is Toenail Fungus Difficult to Detect


Skin infections happen among people all across the world, and are fairly commonplace. Some are quite contagious, while others are not as dangerous, as far as transmittance is concerned. Nail infections are somewhat similar to skin infection, in that they have the capability to spread if not treated immediately, or as soon as the symptoms have manifested.


Toenail fungal infections on the other hand, often go undetected, at least in the earlier stages. This is partly due to the location of the fungus (the foot being a less observed area of the body), and partly due to the regular wear and tear contributing to some measure of discoloration and deformity. When they go undetected, they are bound to evolve into more severe afflictions, and can sometimes even be the cause of notable discomfort.


There are also several other conditions that often go mistaken for a fungal infection on and around the toenail. These conditions include but are not limited to paronychia, pseudomonas bacteria and hematoma, are not really fungal, and they often contribute to misdiagnosis. Despite all of the aforementioned however, toenail fungus can be detected and treated, quite simply in fact.


Reasons for Toenail Fungus Infections


The infection could be due to several reasons, some of which are as follows:

  • Unclean and Musty Living Conditions: This is the least common cause of toenail fungus in the West, or in developed countries, since the living conditions have to be extremely unkempt in order for there to be any risk of contracting toenail fungus. When the carpets and furniture are left without cleaning for prolonged periods of time, there is a very high chance of the surfaces themselves bearing fungal substances, which could then lead to infections.
  • Temperate and Moist Climates: Moisture in the air is vital for there to be fungal growth, since airborne moisture is what fungi utilize in the absence of a sustained water supply. Regions that get a substantial amount of rain, or are moist throughout the year, have a much higher rate of infection among the population, as compared to drier and colder countries. Warmer climates are also notorious for the promotion of fungal growth, which, when combined with moisture, can make for the infection being more common.
  • Other Fungal Infections: There are a number of skin conditions and infections which can then lead to the toenails and surrounding areas being infected. A more common condition such as athlete’s foot, is also caused by mostly the same fungi that cause other maladies. If athlete’s foot is left unchecked and uncured, it can very easily spread to the toenails, thus causing even more problems.
  • Weak Immune System: Since our immune systems are designed to combat infections, a weak immune system will leave the body a target for afflictions. Toenail fungus is most common among those of ages above 60, since the body does not function as well in the disease prevention and management department. Other than that, conditions and diseases that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS are also a major cause of toenail fungus.



How to Avoid and Treat Toenail Fungus


Toenail fungus can be quite a problem, however, it is quite easy to manage and treat when it is detected and treated. It is even better, however, to take certain precautionary measures and avoid it altogether. Following are some avoidance measures as well as treatments for toenail fungus.

  • To avoid contracting the disease at all, always wash your feet when you arrive home from a day of exercising or walking around for prolonged periods. Also, thoroughly wash and clean the feet each night before going to bed, to avoid any dirt, sweat or combination of both from becoming a source of infection.
  • Keep your feet as dry as possible. Either spray some antiperspirant on them before wearing shoes, or apply some talcum powder which will absorb moisture. Wear socks for the same purpose.
  • Avoid injuries to the nails, since open injuries are a major source of infection. Apply antiseptic immediately in case of injury and consult a medical professional.
  • In case you are already infected, do not wear shoes or footwear that would cause excess perspiration. Protect your feet from dirt and impurities as much as you can.
  • While it is always better to consult a doctor in case of an infection, there are certain home-based remedies that can assist in reducing the symptoms and eventually curing the disease. You can use substances such as ionized sunflower oil, Vicks VapoRub and apple cider vinegar to help treat the fungus.


Important: Always seek medical help at the first sign of an infection in order to avoid further spreading. In the event of an accident or injury to the infected foot, DO NOT attempt to self-medicate, and immediately consult a doctor or medical professional.





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