What if you are told that the pedicure that you paid big bucks for can leave you with a rather unpleasant gift? Your barefoot walks just around a public pool or even a shared shower after your gym routine may cause you the trouble of developing a common disease: onychomycosis, otherwise known as fungus growing on nails.
What Is Toenail Fungus?
You might be wondering what this fungal infection occupying your toenail is. Toenail fungus is a common condition that manifests itself as yellow or white spots. You will find these spots growing under the tip of your toenail. As the infection grows, it can thicken your nail and can even cause crumbling as the penetration by the fungus becomes deeper.
Once the infection has taken hold of your finger, it can cause loosening of your nail and can even lead to its separation from the skin. In the worst case scenarios, the fungal infection can even spread to the skin and the adjacent fingers and start destroying their nails as well.
Why Does Fungus Occupy Your Toenails?
If you are wondering how a fungal infection can hold your toenail, science can answer your question. Fungi are living beings that need warm and moist environments to survive. Your toenail is particularly a suitable habitat for it to grow.
It is interesting to know that the fungal infections already occupying your body can also transfer themselves to toenails and thrive in there to ultimately cause toenail infections.
Who Is Susceptible To Toenail Fungus?
According to Science, men are more vulnerable to suffer from a toenail fungal infection as compared to women. Age plays another significant role in determining the susceptibility– the older you get, the better your vulnerability towards this disease.
Additionally, if you are already suffering from athlete’s foot or have a weak immunity, you can be on the verge of developing toenail infection several times more than the average people. For those of you who smoke, have diabetes or have someone in the family with this infection, the odds for developing toenail fungus are high
Should You Be Worrying About Your Toenail Infestation?
Toenail fungus is not dangerous for most of the people as it can only cause emotional trauma. Nevertheless, individuals who have a weak immune system or poor flow of blood towards their feet might need to concern themselves more.
People with diabetes need to be particularly careful about developing toenail infection as they can quickly develop complications because of it.
If you are suffering from some nerve damage, you can also be vulnerable to developing secondary infections, for example, paronychia. These diseases tend to spread to the bone and rest of the foot.
How Can You Diagnose Toenail Fungus?
You can diagnose toenail fungus mainly by its appearance. There are a few exceptions in which similar symptoms can appear on your nails, for example in psoriasis. However, most of the time, it is the fungal infection that makes your nail thick and brittle.
You can also consult a podiatrist or a dermatologist who can scrape off a piece of the affected part and get it tested to get to the root of the problem.
How Can You Treat Toenail Fungus?
You only require proper treatment for your toenail fungus if you develop complications. There are topical medications that can cure a mild case of fungal attacks efficiently. For long-term treatment, oral therapy can also be added to the treatment regimen after consulting with a doctor.
Additionally, many natural agents can treat fungal infections growing on toenails. According to research published in the Journal of Prosthodontics, apple cider vinegar has all the properties for treating a fungal infection.
Other agents that can treat this infection include coconut oil, tea tree oil, and baking soda.
Best home based remedies for treating toenail fungus
- Try Vicks VapoRub
This is probably the trick which never fails. Vicks VapoRub is a topical treatment for nasal congestion, blocked chest, and flu. It has multiple healthy ingredients, i.e., camphor and eucalyptus oil which has a healing effect on toenail fungus.
It is even proven by a 2011 study that it helps to leave a positive effect on people suffering from toenail fungus. You can try it twice a day for complete evacuation of fungus.
- Natural potential of snakeroot extract
Snakeroot is a natural anti-fungal which is made by plants. It is a unique plant which belongs to the sunflower family. It is often compared with antifungal medicine ciclopirox for the equally good effects.
- Use tea tree oil on it
Essential oils are way too beneficial only if you know the right way to use them. Tea tree oil is one these miraculous oil, and it is also famous by the name of melaleuca. It is a natural fungicidal and also antiseptic.
If you use tea tree oil directly on toenail fungus, it will make it go away as soon as possible. Use it directly on affected area only for 1-2 times a day with a cotton swab.
- Use Oregano oil on it
Another beneficial oil is oregano oil which is a part of food recipes too. It is proven by a study from 2016 review, that there is a compound inside it called thymol which has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
You can use oregano oil on the affected area twice a day with a clean cotton swab. It is also a good idea to mix tea tree oil and oregano oil for the enhanced effects. But beware to check it for sensitivity before using.
- Apply olive leaf extract on it
The olive tree is also a medicinal plant which has several benefits to offer. One of the active substances inside the olive tree is oleuropein, which is a natural antifungal and antimicrobial agent. It is also good for immunity, and you can use it with ease.
You can use olive leaf paste on your toenail directly. Or if it is not available, you can use supplements. Taking one to three supplement capsules is a suitable adult dose. For better results, use them with meals. Drink plenty of water if you plan to try this remedy.
Long-term effects of toenail fungus
Fungal infections, especially on toenails, are the most stubborn to treat. It is such a difficult thing to cure which needs patience, care, and efforts. Not all nail infections are treated unless you see a new nail which has no remaining of the previous infection.
You may sometimes mistake other nail problems with fungus. Only a dermatologist can diagnose if your infection is fungal or not. These infections are usually painless but uncomfortable. It is also possible for the fungal infections to hit you again after some time.
The reason is that they never actually end when you think that they are gone. The tiny fungal spores remain inside and regenerate whenever they get an opportunity. That is why toenail fungal infects need extreme care even after you think that they are gone.
In severe cases, it can form some health complications, some of which are as follows.
- A return of the infection.
- A long-term colorlessness of infected nail.
- Permanent loss of the affected nail.
- Spreading of infection to other nails or people.
- A secondary bacterial infection called cellulitis.
You need special care if you have diabetes and are subjected to a toenail infection. People who have diabetes are thought to have more severe health complications while dealing with toenail fungus. If you suspect diabetes, talk to your doctor about it and seek special medical care to treat it.
Steps For Preventing Toenail Fungus
It is rightly said that prevention is better than cure. You can quickly reduce the risk of developing fungus on your toenails by following these simple steps.
- Always keep your feet clean.
- Use absorbent socks to keep feet dry.
- Treat athlete’s foot as soon as you get it.
- Get your sugar level under control if you have diabetes.
- Use antifungal sprays if your suspect toenail fungus.
- Get your manicure and pedicure only from trustworthy salons.
- Do not retain so much moisture in feet.
- Avoid being barefoot at public places.
- Avoid making a direct contact with the affected person.
- Limit the use of nail paints.