Toe fungus, a common condition, is known medically as onychomycosis. It is the result of an infection in the toenails caused by small organisms. Nail fungus occurs under the toenail, which makes it a challenge to access it to cure it effectively.The obvious signs of toenail fungal infections are flakiness, brittleness and chipping. They can also become thick. If the toenail has a bad smell and a spotty brown, black or yellow coloring, it could be a sign of fungal infection. A stinging pain can occur while walking. Treatment options are available for toe fungus.
The Causes of Toe Fungus
Toe fungus can occur when there is a natural nail break or if the toenails are trimmed too closely. This can allow fungus an avenue to enter and expand. It can also be caused by wearing tight shoes that can weaken the toenails or from wearing the same shoes every day and neglecting to let them dry each day. If your feet stay damp for long periods of time, it can increase the chances of fungus to penetrate under the toenail.
Nail fungus can also occur when the immune system is compromised. People who are suffering from diabetes or HIV may have immune systems that are weaker. They are more susceptible to having nail fungus problems. People who have poor circulation also are more likely to have fungal issues. If circulation is lacking, the nails are more prone to have a loss of nutrients that would invite fungus to the toenail area.
Treatment for Toenail Fungus
Home remedies have been proven effective in stopping fungal growth. Fill a bowl with equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Soak your toenails for 20 minutes. Wipe them well with a dry towel and then use an absorbent paper towel. Do this two times per day. Listerine mouthwash and rubbing alcohol can be used in the same fashion.
You may also soak your toenails in pure hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) for 20 minutes once in the morning and once before going to bed. If the solution feels too strong, mix it with water to dilute it.
Tea tree oil is an all-natural potent antiseptic and fungicide. It can be rubbed on the toenails with a cotton swab that has been dipped in the oil. It should be done two to three times per day.
Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams are safe and may help with mild infections, according to The New York Times. If you need a stronger treatment, prescription medications are available that are effective against toe fungus. They include the brand names Fulvicin, Sporanox and Lamisil. They typically are used for a three-month period. Talk to your doctor if you think you need prescription medication for toe fungus.
A painless laser treatment also is available that can kill toe fungus.The procedure takes about 10 minutes. The negative aspect is that it is expensive. In addition, it is considered aesthetic, so health insurance may not cover it.
Prevention of Toe Fungus
Stay away from public bathrooms and shower stalls because fungus tends to grow and thrive in these types of areas. Do not use another person’s nail clippers because germs can be transferred easily. Also, if you have your nails trimmed at a beauty salon, be sure that the clippers have been disinfected. Take care of the fungus as soon as you suspect its growth. It gives you a jump start on treating it effectively.