Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention of Toenail Fungus

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Preventing Toenail Fungus

Preventing toenail fungus can be challenging if prone to infection.  The toenail is exposed to a wide range of external and internal stresses. External factors that can cause fungal nail infections include wetness, prolonged exposure to moisture, friction from tight shoes and socks, or even overuse of harsh soap. Lack of moisture or dry conditions also makes the nails more susceptible to cracking and breaking. On top of these external factors, the nail serves as an extension of the skin and is subject to many of the same stresses as other parts of our body. This is one reason why people are so often prone to developing fungal infections in the nails (and other areas). The fungus that causes this condition grows in moist spaces between the nail wall and the nail bed (subcutaneous space), where it can access oxygen, nutrients, and warmth from bodily fluids. Anything that disturbs or changes the balance between moisture levels in the surrounding environment and dryness stressors can allow the growth of this fungus in the nail. If you have healthy nails but are still prone to developing fungal nail infections, there could be some underlying issues causing your nails to be less resistant than usual against such infections.

Preventing Toenail Fungus

Causes of Toenail Fungus

Drying of the nail -The fungus thrives in a moist environment, so it will flourish where others cannot. Often people prone to developing fungal toenail infections have dry and brittle nails due to other underlying factors such as poor diet, nail injury, or lack of adequate moisture.

Bacterial Fungal Nails

A more common type of fungus found in the toenail is that caused by bacteria. This type of fungus is much less common than fungal nail infections, but it can cause a similar appearance. One reason this type of fungus is so rare is that, unlike most other types of fungi, it cannot live and grow on its own; it needs support from a host organism to survive and thrive. These types of fungi are found primarily in warm, moist environments like inside the mouth and nostrils or the diaper area. The bacteria causing this type of infection are typical species of Staphylococcus (the same kind that causes staph infections). The bacteria grow on the outermost layer of the nail and often attach themselves to small hair-like structures called cementoblasts that grow out from the nail matrix. When these nails become infected, they will develop redness and an increased risk of splitting or cracking. In contrast with fungal infections, bacterial toenails often have minimal to no odor.

Diet and nutrition play a role in toenail fungus

Many factors can contribute to the development of this condition, but diet and nutrition play a major role. For example, people with poor circulation, deficient in vitamin B12, or taking an anticoagulant medication may be more at risk. It’s also important to keep your nails healthy by eating a balanced diet and taking proper supplements, like vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and biotin. Generally, it’s good to ensure you’re getting enough calcium (especially if you wear nail polish), protein, and zinc in your diet. Taking a multivitamin is also recommended as you can get some of these vitamins from food sources but not all. These nutrients are often lacking in people who engage in physical labor or work outside regularly as well as those with diets high in sugar, salt, or alcohol. If you pay attention to your diet and make sure your nails remain healthy, they will be less prone to infection.

Preventing Toenail Fungus

Environmental and occupational factors influence susceptibility to toenail infection

Environmental and occupational factors can influence susceptibility to toenail infection. Infections caused by fungus overgrowths may also occur due to a lack of resistance from the nail. People who have dry, low pH, or hard nails are more susceptible to fungal infections than those with softer nails.  Sharing nail clippers with someone who may have the fungus and can pass it on to others.  Wearing shower shoes in public showers and swimming pools can help prevent toenail fungal growth.

Stress and anxiety can cause toenail infection

Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause toenail infection. There are a lot of factors that contribute to nail fungus development. If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to prevent the development of this condition in the future, consider addressing your stress or other mental health factors with a doctor or mental health professional if necessary. The most common symptom associated with stress is that it often causes chronic fatigue, which stresses your immune system and increases susceptibility to infection. Chronic fatigue can make it harder for your body to fight off infection because the infection will be able to take hold before your system has had enough time to recover from its effects. Other symptoms of stress include headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, irritability, and insomnia.

Symptoms of Toenail Fungification

The most obvious symptom of toenail fungus is the discoloration of the nail. Toenails that have been infected with the fungus can turn yellow, orange, brown, or dark purple. A Fungus-infected nail bed also may become thick and brittle and develop ridges along the sides. The edges of these ridges often break off, leaving a jagged appearance. In addition to this discoloration, toenails that are infected with fungus will often smell foul.

Preventing Toenail Fungus

Diagnosis of Toenail Fungus

As with many other infections, the presence of nail fungus can only be confirmed by a medical professional. If your nails are thick, discolored, and smelly, you should visit your doctor for a consultation. The most common signs of toenail fungus are thickened or discolored toenails. This can be accompanied by a foul odor. In more severe cases, the fungus may spread to the surrounding skin around the toes and foot. Patients may also experience pain and swelling in the affected area as well as skin tears from scratching and picking at the infected area. If you have been diagnosed with toenail fungus and experience any symptoms within 10 days, it is important to visit your doctor for treatment recommendations to prevent potential complications from developing further.  Fear not – there is a high cure rate.

Treating Fungus on the Foot and Skin

Preventing Toenail Fungus

If you’ve developed a fungal infection in your toenail, you can treat it in many ways. One way is by using topical antifungal medication. However, this method does not always work and can even cause other issues like skin irritation or excessive dryness. If topical medications are ineffective for you, there are also many options that can be effective—including oral medications, lifestyle changes, and nail surgery. Antifungal oral medications may provide the most effective treatment for cases of toenail fungus. These medicines help stop the growth of the fungus while also reducing any unpleasant side effects associated with over-the-counter treatments like the ones mentioned above. Lifestyle changes such as discontinuing wet foot baths, avoiding wearing tight shoes, washing your nails daily with soap and water, avoiding products that contain harsh or drying ingredients (like lotions made from petroleum), and using moisturizers on your feet daily are all factors that can reduce your risk of developing toenail fungus in the first place.

Conclusion

Toenail fungus is a common infection but is also very treatable and preventable. With the proper treatment and care, a person can be symptom-free and able to live a healthy life without the worry of a nail infection.