Also called tinea unguim and onychomycosis, toenail fungus is one of the most commonly affecting nail diseases that make up almost 50 percent of all nail abnormalities. Both toenails and fingernails are now susceptible to infections, which manifests as thickening and discoloration of nails with crumbling edges. The condition is very common in case of toenails.
Between 6 to 8 percent of adult populace suffer from some kind to toenail fungus infection.
Who can get toenail fungus?
Nail fungus infections can affect anyone – men and women. It is, however, more common in adults than children. Additional traits that may raise your risk of getting toenail fungus are:
- Slower growth of nails
- Poor blood circulation
- Genetic factors
- Heavy perspiration
- Moist or humid work environment
- Wearing shoes and socks that prevents ventilation
- Previous infection or injury to the nail or skin
- Tight footwear
- Walking barefoot in public places, especially damp areas like gyms, shower rooms and swimming pools
What is the cause(s) of toenail fungus?
Fungal infections of the nails are caused by typical microscopic organisms known as fungi that don’t need sunlight for survival. Commonly there is a group of fungi known as dermatophytes, just like Candida, is the cause of these infection. However, there are some molds and yeasts that may be responsible for causing these infections as well.
There are some pathogens that may be responsible for causing toenail fungus. Pathogens enter our skin through the small cuts or tiny separations between the nail bed and nail. The fungi start growing when the nail provides a comfortable, moist and warm environment.
Notice the signs and symptoms of toenail fungus
Nails infected with fungus are usually brittle, thickened, ragged, crumbly, dull, distorted, yellowish or darker in color. People with this infection may also experience other signs like infected nails separating from nail bed. There are times when the fungal infection causes pain in the fingertips or toes, and may even give out a foul odor.
Another sign of nail fungus is the fungus-free lesions known as dermatophytids. These are rashes, normally, though may cause itchiness around the area even though it is not infected. This is more of an allergic effect or reaction.
Toenail fungus can be prevented by proper foot hygiene and care. There are some suggestions to be followed, such as:
- Keep your nails dry, short, and clean
- Wear breathable socks, preferably synthetic
- Use antifungal powders or sprays
- Wear rubber gloves to avoid exposing your feet to water
- Refrain from biting or picking nails
- Wear sandals or shoes in public pools and places
- Ensure that the pedicure and manicure tools are sterilized properly.