A detailed and informative guide about types of Toenail fungus and how to treat it
Toenail fungus is a common condition. It can affect any of your toes, but it most often occurs in the big toe.
The infection usually begins as a discolored spot on the nail and gradually gets worse over time. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, your risk for toenail fungus is greater.
Types of toenail fungus
There are three types of toenail fungus:
Dermatophytic infection: This type of infection is caused by dermatophytes (a type of fungus). The dermatophyte fungi may cause tinea pedis (athlete’s foot), tinea cruris (jock itch) and tinea corporis (ringworm). Dermatophytic infections occur when these fungi grow under the nail and attack healthy tissue.
The fungi live on dead skin cells in your body and don’t usually cause health problems unless they grow out of control. This happens when there isn’t enough moisture on your toes to protect them from drying out and cracking, allowing the fungi to invade healthy tissue beneath the nail bed. If you have diabetes or another condition that affects your immune system, you’re at higher risk for this type of infection.
Non-dermatophytic infection: This type of infection is caused by yeasts called Candida albicans or C. glabrata. Non-dermatophytic infections can also cause tinea pedis (athlete’s foot), tinea cruris (jock itch) and tinea corporis (ringworm).
Athlete’s foot: This infection is typically milder than other types of fungal infections but can spread quickly if not treated properly. Athlete’s foot often affects both feet at once because shoes trap moisture between toes — a perfect breeding ground for fungal infections.
Athlete’s foot is caused by an infection with a type of fungus called Trichophyton rubrum. It usually affects the feet but can also sometimes affect other parts of the body such as the groin or armpits. Understand all the types of toenail fungus so that you know the right way to care for them.
Stages of toenail fungus
The stages of toenail fungus are:
Stage 1 – This stage is characterized by a yellow discoloration of the toenail. In most cases, this is caused by a fungal infection that is not very deep in the nail. Some people may have this condition and not even know it.
The first stage of toenail fungus is mild. You may not even notice that you have it until the infection gets worse. If you do notice a change in your nail, it will likely be yellow or brown spots on the nail plate.
Stage 2 – The second stage of a toenail fungus is when the discoloration grows out from under your nails. You may notice your nails changing from white to yellow and then brown or black as the infection progresses.
If you don’t treat mild toenail fungus, it can progress to moderate nail fungus. In this stage, the yellow or brown spots on your nails start to spread and make it look like there’s dirt under your nails. The sides of your nails may also become thick or crumbly if left untreated.
Stage 3 – The third stage of a fungus infection involves deep infection of your nails which will cause them to become brittle and break off prematurely. This can be very painful for people who suffer from this type of problem so they should seek treatment right away if they notice any signs of this condition in their toes or feet.
In this stage of toenail fungus, the nail becomes brittle and breaks off easily when pressure is applied to it. It may also develop a foul odor due to bacteria growing beneath the nail plate.
What causes toenail fungus?
Let us find the answer to what causes toenail fungus? Well Toenail fungus may be more common in people who wear closed-toe shoes like sneakers and those who frequently wear sandals. It can also affect people who wear tight-fitting socks or stockings for long periods of time.
Other factors that may contribute to the development of toenail fungus include:
- inadequate hygiene — wearing poorly fitting shoes that don’t allow air circulation can cause sweat buildup around your toes and provide an ideal environment for fungi to grow;
- wearing socks without shoes
- being overweight
- having diabetes, heart disease or circulation problems in your legs (peripheral vascular disease).
How to cure toenail fungus
There are a lot of ways to cure toenail fungus. You can choose one that is the most convenient or effective for you.
Here are some ways to cure toenail fungus:
- Use over-the-counter antifungal cream or ointment. You can buy these creams at any pharmacy and apply it directly on your nails. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe an oral antifungal drug if you have diabetes, heart disease, or if the infection is severe.
- Consult with a podiatrist or dermatologist if the infection is severe or if it doesn’t go away after two months’ treatment. You may need to undergo more aggressive treatment like oral antifungal medication, laser therapy, or removal of all or part of your nail plate (onychomycosis). The podiatrist can suggest the best cure for toenail fungus.
Home remedies for Toenail fungus
Toenail fungus is a contagious infection that can spread from one person to another through direct contact. The fungus thrives in dark, moist areas, such as between the toes and under the nails. It may not be easy to remove this infection, but there are several home remedies you can try to get rid of it.
The following are some of the best home remedies for toenail fungus:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural treatment for toenail fungus due to its antimicrobial properties. The acids present in apple cider vinegar help kill off the fungus and prevent it from growing back again. To use apple cider vinegar on your toenails, massage a few drops of it directly onto your nails twice daily for two weeks. Alternatively, mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of water and soak your feet in it for 20 minutes every day for two weeks.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil works well in destroying fungi on the skin and nails because it has strong antifungal properties that help eliminate fungi from your body naturally. Tea tree oil can be applied topically or taken internally as an oral medication to cure toenail fungus
- Lavender Oil
This oil has antifungal properties which help in curing your toenail fungus problem effectively. You can massage this oil onto your feet and nails regularly for best results.
- Baking soda
Baking soda is one of the most popular remedies for toenail fungus. The reason behind its popularity is that it has been used for centuries in many different cultures around the world. The main reason why baking soda can cure this condition is that it has anti-fungal properties which help in killing the fungus and preventing further growth.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to 1 tablespoon of baking soda and mix them well to make a thick paste. Apply this mixture over your affected nails and let it dry completely before washing off with warm water. You can use this remedy once or twice daily depending on how serious your condition is.
Soak your feet in warm water and add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to it. Soak for 15 minutes or so and then scrub your feet with a pumice stone to remove dead skin cells. You can also rub some lemon juice onto your feet to help remove any lingering fungi. Rinse off your feet and pat dry with a towel.
If traditional methods do not work, then you may need more aggressive treatment.
Laser treatment to cure toenail fungus.
If you have a fungal infection on your toes and fingers, you might be wondering about laser treatment for toenail fungus.
What is laser treatment?
Laser therapy or phototherapy is a method of treating fungal nail infections (onychomycosis) with low-level laser (light) energy, which has been found to help treat the infection. This is because it penetrates deep into the skin, softening the keratin in the nail plate so that it can be removed more easily by filing or scraping. It also increases blood flow to the area and helps your body fight off infection.
Does laser treatment work?
Laser treatment has been found to be effective in 76% of people who had one or two nails infected with fungus, but less so in those with more than two infected nails at once (58%). It also works best on nails that are not particularly thickened or discoloured, so if this applies to you then it may be worth asking your GP about this option.
Benefits of laser treatment to cure toenail fungus
Laser treatment is a more advanced form of treating toenail fungus. It uses high intensity laser light beams to kill the fungus and stimulate growth of new nail.
- It is a non-invasive procedure, meaning that it does not involve any major surgery or cutting into the skin.
- The treatment is relatively painless, with the patient only feeling a slight pressure during the course of the procedure.
- The treatment gives results within 4 weeks after the first session itself, which is much faster than other methods of treatment such as oral medication or topical creams that take months to show results if they work at all!
Nail removal to cure toenail fungus
Nail removal is done by a doctor or podiatrist. They remove the infected part of your nail and treat it with antifungal medication. If you have an infection in only one toe, the doctor may remove just that nail and leave the other nails alone.
The procedure usually takes about 15 minutes. Afterward, you will be able to see that the nail is gone. You may notice some pain or discomfort as your body heals, but this should go away within a few days.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before having this procedure because it’s unknown whether it could affect your pregnancy or your child’s health if he or she drinks breast milk afterward.
The main reason for removing the nail is that it can hide symptoms of the problem, so that you do not get treatment until your condition has become severe. Removing the nail also allows any medication that you are using to penetrate better into the nail bed.
For example, if you have athlete’s foot and are using antifungal creams, these will not penetrate well into the nail bed if there is still a covering of hard skin on top of it. You can use an e-file or scalpel to remove this covering layer in order to allow better penetration of medication into the infected area beneath.
Tips to prevent toenail fungus
Preventing toenail fungus is the best way to deal with this infection.
Here are some tips on how to prevent toenail fungus:
- Avoid wearing tight shoes. This can limit the circulation of blood in your feet, which provides oxygen and nutrients to your nails.
- Make sure you wear proper foot wear when you’re outside in the elements. If you don’t have any socks on, make sure that your shoes completely cover your toes or have thick soles to protect them from getting wet and dirty.
- Always wear flip flops or sandals when you’re around water so that it doesn’t get inside your shoes and cause an infection.
- Wash your feet once a day with warm water and soap before bedtime and dry them thoroughly afterwards as well as between toes if needed.
- Apply lotion or moisturizer to your feet every night before going to bed
Toenail fungus can be a painful condition. It is best to prevent it in the first place by seeking treatment when you spot the infection. If you follow the precautions, then there are chances that you will not develop the infection in the first place. Make your move today so that you do not become a victim to Toenail fungus. It will be the smart move on your part.