There is nothing quite as embarrassing as a yellowing and a crumbly toenail. While you can hide it cosmetically with nail polish or a pedicure, you are not doing it any favors. Your toenail is only going to get worse, until the day when you cannot walk without wincing or even put on your shoes without feeling a stab in your toenail.
That is how toenail fungus develops. It sneaks up on you.
The fungus starts as a small flake or spot at the end of your nail. As time goes on, it multiplies and becomes thicker and thicker until it covers your entire toe. And in the worst cases, your entire foot.
Toenail fungus happens to be a commonplace affliction, and the condition can range from severe to mild to barely even there. Most cases of toenail fungus are not severe, but it can develop into something painful for some. Others may just be self-conscious and a tad bit uncomfortable about how their feet look.
The great news is that nail fungus is very treatable. The sooner you act, however, the easier it will be to get rid of the ugly discolored, and deformed fungal nails. But for you to be able to do that, you need to know what a toenail fungus looks like and through which symptoms it typically manifests.
Toenail Fungus Symptoms
Here are the symptoms of toenail fungus that you need to watch out for:
- Discoloration in one or more nails. It is typically yellow or brown, but it can also be milky white.
- A nail that gradually becomes deformed. It may have even started to separate from the nail bed, or it is close to coming off fully.
- Brittle or ragged nails.
- Difficulty putting on shoes and a constant, throbbing pain when walking.
- Depending on the severity, fungal toenails may also give out an unpleasant odor.
Fungal toenails may also be a result of a fungal skin infection between the toes, which is commonly called foot ringworm or athlete’s foot. So if you have any of the symptoms of toenail fungus, it might be a good idea to check the webbing between the toes for any type of infection.
Causes of Toenail Fungus?
At the risk of sounding blunt, bad foot care is a major reason why fungi nest their homes under toenails. This can include a variety of causes, such as:
- Toenail fungus is most commonly caused by a fungal organism called the dermatophyte.
- In some cases, molds, yeast, and bacteria around the toenails can grow into a full-fledged nail fungus.
- It can also form when a cut, bruise, or crack in your nail or your skin goes untreated, allowing the fungus to fester.
- Sweaty feet are another popular breeding ground for nail fungus. Fungus loves anything warm and damp, and it can start living underneath your toenail.
Your best course of action is to start treating your fungal toenails as soon as you discover them.
At-Home Treatments for Toenail Fungus
If you catch your fungal toenail during its earliest onset, then yes, you can certainly try treating it at home. However, many at-home treatments do not actually work, so do not become discouraged if you do not get the results you want. Here are some home remedies you might find:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Vicks VapoRub
- Tea tree oil
- Olive leaf extract
- Snakeroot extract
- Baking soda and borax soak
- Ozonized sunflower oil
- Oregano oil
- Cornmeal soak
While treating your nail fungus at home, also keep your nails clean, trimmed, and buffed to stop the fungus from spreading further. Buffing the nail can also allow topical antifungals to penetrate more deeply. Make sure also to clean nail care tools thoroughly afterward and not share them with anyone.
If you notice that your toenails are getting worse, it means the home remedy is not working or the infection is more severe than you initially thought. If that is the case, it might be a good idea to seek professional help.
When to Get Professional Help for Fungal Nails
Fungal nails typically are not very severe, but they can sometimes be debilitating. You should contact our office if you:
- Experience swelling around the nails.
- Have difficulty walking or putting on shoes.
- Feel severe pain in the affected toenail.
- See your nail bleeding.
- Your nail has started to separate from the nail bed.
- Have diabetes, as infections are very serious for diabetics.
- Have a suppressed immune system.
Professional Treatment Options for Toenail Fungus
Our doctors will measure the severity of your nail fungus before recommending any of the following three treatment options:
Over-the-counter medications for nail fungal infections typically do not work. Instead, our doctors may prescribe you a prescription medication or recommend a course of antibiotics. In some cases, our doctors may advise you to trim the infected part of the nail before prescribing you oral antifungal medication.
Our doctors may prescribe a topical solution. You may need to take these prescriptions for a long time, depending on the severity of your infection and the kind of fungus responsible.
Oral and Topical Treatment
A combination of oral and topical treatments is considered the best for treating nail fungus infection. Topical treatment can treat the infection from the outside and stop the fungus from spreading, while oral treatment can kill the germs that are inside. This combination helps prevent the recurrence of a nail fungus infection.
Contact Us About Your Toenail Fungus
At Michigan Foot & Ankle Specialists, we are the specialists on all things feet and ankles. Contact us online or call us at 313-582-6222 if you have any questions. You can also schedule an appointment to see us right away.
Stop getting embarrassed or hurt by toenail fungus, but start getting rid of it for good!
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Dearborn, MI 48126
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