Toenail Fungus: Signs and Causes

Toenail fungal infections most often affect those people who lead a healthy life style. That’s because these people regularly go to the gym, pool, sauna and so on. These are the exact places the malicious fungi lurks waiting for the right moment to strike on our poor feet.

A toenail fungus is a very resilient infection, which in time can affect all parts of the nail; destroying it, and crossing over to the other nails and skin. A nail fungus (onychomycosis) is caused by a fungal infection, which can be easily transferred from one person to another.  A nail fungus is a source of infection of the other body parts.  Even if you cure all sources of the fungal infection on the skin, repeat infections might spread again from the affected nail to the rest of the foot. Very often  a nail fungal infection can spread to the family through common footwear, but sometimes it can be spread through other household items. Just as often a nail infection can occur in public facilities: in saunas, shower rooms, workout rooms and fitness halls, and swimming pools.

External signs of a nail fungal infection consist of the changes in the nail color, thickening of the nail plate and later in crumbling and destruction of the nail.  A fungal infection turns the nails white, gray, yellow, brown and sometimes black or green.  The nail plate becomes opaque as there is fungi between it and the nail base.

The nail thickens  because of the fungal infection is caused by the increased keratosis of the fingernail bed as a reaction to the fungal invasion. The amount of the corneal (horn like) matter in the nail grows with the time and prevents effective healing.

nail fungiUntreated nail fungus can lead to a fungal invasion of the whole thickness of the nail and causing it to split.  Nail crumbling, an i.e. breakdown of the nail plate, starting from the free edge happens simultaneously with the thickening of it. Signs of the external changes caused by the nail fungi, can be confirmed by the laboratory testing of the skin cells or bits of the nail.

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Remember that fungal infections of the feet are not among those kind of illnesses that would “go away” as the time goes (if such kind of illnesses even exists).  On the contrary, things would eventually get even worse: Nails affected by the fungus would change color, get thicker and sometimes start  to break down. So you should immediately start treating the fungal infection as soon as you notice it. Not so long ago a nail fungal treatment consisted of extracting the entire affected nail.  The problem was that the new nail often grew with the same fungus. Nowadays a surgical treatment of the nail fungus can be used in case of severe onychomycosis.

Before modern medicine, the toenail fungus often times survived the various remedies used to treat the fungus. They contained acids (salicylic, lactic), dyes (blue dye and green disinfectant), iodine, vinegar, and sulfur. All these substances were used in the form of various solutions, liquids, ointments, patches, peelings and nail polishes.  These types of treatments would last for years.

Household cure for nail fungi

It is essential to bear in mind that besides incredible resilience to the environment, the nail fungus quickly develops resistance towards the substances used in the anti-fungal medications.  It means that if the fungus was not fully treated or a repeat infection occurred, for example through the old footwear, the repeat treatment by the old medication would not be as effective. You should choose medication with fundamentally different mechanism of action, for example an innovative Mycosan serum based on the filtered rye enzyme, which has high anti-fungal activity and does not  let the fungus adjust to it. This serum destructs the fungus deep inside the nail plate lowering the risk of a recurrent infection.

There is an effective household remedy for the nail fungi. Prepare an ointment of a raw egg, a teaspoon of dimethylphtalate (a mosquito repellent),  a tablespoon of oil or the same amount of a 70% vinegar. Store this mixture in the fridge. Rub it into the infected spots, cover with a plastic bag and then put on socks. This treatment must be kept on the nails overnight  (The same “hotbed” is used for hands too.) In case of a neglected nail fungus, you should wear the treatment 24 hours a day, for  3-4 days. The fungus would go away and the old nails would peel off giving way to new, healthy pink ones.

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nail fungi infectionHowever, the effectiveness of the all the above-mentioned measures can not compare to the modern anti-fungal remedies, which can terminate the fungus. Nowadays however, effectiveness of the nail fungus treatment varies a lot depending on the doctor’s competence and use of the latest medical achievements as well as the stage of infection at the moment of the first visit to the doctor, precision in following the treatment regime (which might be rather long), and the  prophylactic actions after recovery.

The most recent anti-fungal medications do not just actively fight fungi and stop the mycosis development but also stay in the  nails for a long period of time and allowing a shortened period of treatment. Modern anti-fungal remedies usually should be taken for 2-4 months (compared to the old 6-12) and with the most progressive treatment (puls-therapy) just for several weeks.

Nail fungus remedies can be used orally (capsules and tablets) and for local application (nail polish, plasters with stripping effect).

A nail polish to treat a toenail fungus

Anti-fungal nail polish for local treatment should be applied only 1-2 times a week. Treatment for severe infections combines use of forms for external application with capsules or tablets. A new combined medication has appeared that has both the anti-fungal effect and the ability to soften the corneal matter.   This helps to fight the thickening of the nail.  This problem can also be solved by the recently appearing medical devices for digital treatment — reconfigured drill machines with specific pieces for sanding nails. A treating physician chooses specific treatment plan for each case of the nail fungi infection.

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fungus of the toenails

There is always an important issue during and after treatment of the nail fungi which concerns disinfection of everything that came into contact with the fungus: the floors, the walls, the shower rooms’ and bathrooms’ equipment, and also personal possessions: underwear, shoes, skin care and nail care items.

Clean the bath tub walls and bottom with the mixture of equal parts washing powder and bleaching powder or chloramine (wash off the powder in 30 minutes). For shoes it is recommended to use either formalin solution (25%) or vinegar acid (40%). You should carefully wipe the inner sole and walls of a shoe with the soaked cotton pad.  Then tuck the cotton pad into the shoe toe and put the shoes into the air-sealed plastic bag for 24 hours. After that you will need to ventilate the shoes to get rid of the smell. You can disinfect underwear, tights, socs and pantyhose by boiling in 2% soap and sodium solution for 15-20 minutes.  Then you should iron them with a hot iron. Manicure scissors can be submerged in alcohol and then burned in the torch fire. But the most effective remedy for the nail fungi is the preliminary prophylactics.  To avoid nail fungi infection in the family it is enough to follow simple rules of hygiene and use only your personal shoe wear.  You should not walk barefooted in public facilities. You can use anti-fungal sprays and aerosols which are easy to apply in the public places on your soles’ skin and between the toes.  But the most important thing is to always look after your feet health, wearing comfortable shoes that would not constrict or make your feet sweat too much and regularly caring for your feet skin and nails at least while at home.