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What is Nail Fungus

Understanding Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is a yellow or white spot that forms underneath a fingernail or a toenail of an infected individual. It is a common condition that people of all ages experience, though it is more commonly experienced by older adults.

Left untreated, nail fungus can turn into an unsightly problem that leaves the toenails distorted and crumbly and possibly emitting a foul odor.  

What Causes Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is caused by one of many different types of fungi, the most common being yeast, mold, and dermatophyte. Dry, brittle nails, poor blood circulation, and a weak immune system may all cause nail fungus.

Signs You Have a Nail Fungus Infection

Pay attention to the following signs so you can begin treatment, if necessary, as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment for a problematic toenail, the better the results.

  • Thick nails
  • White, yellow, or brown discoloration
  • Brittle nails
  • Distorted nail shape
  • Dark fungi building underneath the nail
  • Foul odor

These signs are the most common indicators that nail fungus is present and that you should address it quickly.

When to Seek Treatment for Nail Fungus

Not every nail fungus case requires treatment, but many will. Some cases of nail fungus rectify themselves in a few days.  If the toenail isn’t painful, swollen, or otherwise causing trouble, it will likely heal on its own.

If there is pain, the nail is thickened or discolored, or there are other issues, you probably want to seek treatment.

signs of a nail fungus infection

There are numerous over-the-counter nail fungus treatments likely to resolve the problem in a few short weeks. Additionally, self-care steps alleviate many nail fungus concerns without additional medicines needed.

It is important to completely treat a case of nail fungus because it will return if it is not totally eliminated.

When to See a Doctor to Treat Nail Fungus

When your self-care and over-the-counter treatment efforts fail to correct the problem, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with the doctor to treat your nail fungus. Do not delay making the appointment if the nail becomes increasingly painful or the toe shape becomes severely deformed.

If you have diabetes and develop nail fungus, it is also essential to schedule a visit sooner rather than later. The doctor will examine the infected nail to determine the best treatment for the infection.

Nail Fungal Infection

Treatment options include topical nail ointments, nail removal surgery, oral medications, and laser treatment.  Hopefully, your nail fungus condition isn’t severe enough to require such extreme treatment measures, but it is reassuring to know the doctor is there just in case.

Can You Prevent Nail Fungus?

Many habits may lead to nail fungal infections. As such, there are many steps that you can take to reduce the risk of developing the condition. This includes:

  • Do not share nail clippers with other people. Disinfect them after each use and make sure they’re stored in a clean, dry area.
  • Wash your hands regularly! If you touch an infected nail, be sure to wash your hands immediately.
  • Shower regularly and keep the feet clean.
  • Trim your fingernails and toenails straight across and use a file to keep them smooth.
  • Wear breathable shoes and socks.
  • Women should not use artificial nails since they can increase the risk of developing a fungal infection.
  • Take notice that health and safety regulations are being met if you visit nail salons.

Treating Nail Fungus 

Nail fungus may be a common condition experienced by many people, but this doesn’t mean it is a condition that needs to interfere with your life. The prevention tips above are some of the best ways to keep nail fungus at bay.

Of course, if the problem has already affected your life,  you can treat it quickly and, if you act fast enough, without a trip to the doctor. You certainly do not want the fungal infection to become so extreme that nail removal is the only solution. When you protect your nails and treat fungus at the first sign, you reduce those risks.