Fungal Nail Infection

Feet | Healthier Me Today

Fungal nail infections are not a pleasant experience. This particular condition, Onychomycosis, is also called tinea unguium and is a common fungal infection. Interestingly, fungi and bacteria live naturally on our skin and nails. 

Technically, some forms of bacteria are good for us and the environment. However, this becomes a problem when the fungi and bacteria develop and overgrow on the surface. Perfect conditions cause fungal nail infections, including a wet, humid, and dark environment.

Main Causes of Fungal Nail Infections

The cause of fungal nail infection is the overgrowth of fungi or bacteria, and this infection spreads through contact and rather quickly. The fungi that may cause a fungal nail infection include jock itch, ringworm, and athlete’s foot.

How do fungal nail infections spread?

Surprisingly, they spread fast and with barely any contact! Since the infection is usually on the toenails, the bacteria meets the feet when the patient is barefoot. It is extremely contagious in specific scenarios like:

  • Walking barefoot
  • Using someone else’s socks or shoes
  • Nail salons (common)
  • Using someone else’s nail clippers

Fungal Nail Infections Symptoms:

Signs & Symptoms are:

  • Nail lifting from nail bed
  • an odor coming from the infected nail
  • a brittle or thickened nail

The unique thing about these symptoms is that they can happen to only one nail or multiple simultaneously. 

Risks to Lookout For

Fungal Nail Infection | Healthier Me Today

Developing fungal nail infections increase with a certain set of risks. For instance, you are likely to invite bacteria to your nails if you have a broken nail. This is because the nail protects the softer part of the fingers, and without the protection, the fungus can grow on top of the skin.

Athletes that use the locker room and shower are also at a higher risk of developing fungal nail infections. Many athletes walk around barefoot, which tracks and takes the fungal infections.

Those who suffer from diabetes have a higher chance of developing fungal nail infections. Diabetes causes poor circulations, which means that cuts and marks take longer to heal. This increases the time that bacteria can enter your body.

One of the worst combinations is living in a hot and humid area. This is significantly worse when you work outside and sweat constantly. Wearing closed-toed and tight shoes causes fungus to grow quickly.

Diagnosis

Always monitor any at-home symptoms and then contact your local doctor. From your local doctor, they can recommend you to a dermatologist. At this dermatologist, the doctor takes your physical and asks questions about your life. They will want to know if you exercise frequently or play any sports.

After looking at the symptoms and the responses to the physical, the doctor can take a nail scraping to find the exact bacteria and fungi causing the infection. You send the test to the lab and find the results within three weeks.

Treating Your Fungal Nail Infection

Woman's Feet Getting a Pedicure Healthier Me Today

Once diagnosed, treatment can start! Usually, if the infection does not go away on its own within a few weeks, doctors will prescribe an oral antifungal medication. This ‘beats’ the infection. It can be in the form of a capsule or as a liquid.

It is also possible to use antifungal nail polish coating, which dries and protects your nail. This gets rid of the fungus on your nail and protects it from coming back. The polish acts similarly to a ‘top coat’ nail polish as it seals your nail away from the moisture in the air and any water.

For some people, fungal infections in their nails never go away. This is a problem because it can spread and cause infection in the fingernails and other body parts. You should try to manage your symptoms and minimize the exposure.

How You Can Manage Your Fungal Nail Infection

The best option will be to manage the symptoms and prevent yourself from getting a fungal infection. Avoid wearing tight shoes. The tightness of a shoe can create a space for bacteria and fungus to thrive in. While closed-toed shoes do protect your feet from damage and harm, they can also increase your chances of getting fungal infections.

Air your feet out often. When you are home, try to wear sandals or walk around barefoot if the area is clean. Although it is tempting to use a band-aid, try not to! Using a band-aid only traps the bacteria in your toes. Over-the-counter medications should be used carefully. Some creams increase humidity and moisture, which leads to fungal infections in the skin and nails.

The number one thing you need to remember is to keep your feet and legs dry and open! During the Summer months when the temperature rises, wear water shoes and avoid walking in puddles of water, especially in public pools.

Prevention is Better than Cure

If you know that you are prone to fungal infections, you should wear light, airy shoes or socks. Another important thing is to quickly treat any broken nails or trauma to your toes and fingers. Finally, if you have a cut, make sure to dry the area around it.

Open wounds attract bacteria; it is best to wear sandals to allow air to circulate while also placing a band-aid on any cuts. Since there are frequent fungal nail infections because of nail salons, always ask for a brand new and unopened nail kit. Speak up for yourself if you don’t see your nail salon artist opening a new kit. It could save you time, pain, and energy that comes with a fungal nail infection.

What Should I Do?

Healthy and Unhealthy Fungal Nail Infection | Healthier Me Today

Overall, Fungal Nail infections are not enjoyable. These infections are super contagious and spread wildly if not contained. In addition, it is not wise to wear too tight shoes in a hot and humid climate, as fungus and bacteria thrive in that climate. Instead, make sure your toes are dry to decrease your chances and protect your feet.


FAQ

  1. Can my fungal toe infection go away on its own? Unfortunately not, fungal toe infections do not go away on their own, and if left untreated could spread and ruin your nail.
  2. What kills toe fungus the quickest? The quickest way to kill toe fungus is by getting laser treatment.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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