July 15, 2016 Posted by Dr.Chang
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Bare feet in damp places are particularly susceptible to coming in contact with fungi, but the excessive perspiration that happens inside of a shoe during workouts can also create the same kind of environment. Therefore, frequent time spent in the pool or at the gym is often cited as the cause for fungal infections in the toenails.
In some cases, the fungus is contracted because of an initial injury to the nail bed. Even something as simple as a stubbed toe or an ingrown toenail can make the area more susceptible to the development of a toenail fungus.
What is Toenail Fungus & How will I know if I Have it?
Toenail fungus is an infection beneath the surface of the nail. It can be present on a toe for years without producing noticeable pain, but usually changes to the color and quality of the nail are the first indicators of its presence. The timing and severity of symptoms vary from patient to patient, but generally include:
- darkening/discoloration of the affected nail
- a foul smell from the nail
- thickening of the nail
- white marks on the nail plate
- redness and swelling
- spreading of the infected area
- pain when walking or wearing shoes
If you’ve noticed a progressive change in a toenail’s color or thickness, make an appointment with your doctor to have it checked. A variety of conditions many cause thick, or discolored toenails, including psoriasis, diabetes, trauma, and constant nail polishing. If your doctor is not sure of the cause, she/he may choose to take a sample of the nail and have a fungal stain done at the lab, this will confirm whether the nail is fungal.
There are treatments available for nail fungus, including oral medication, topical treatments and laser treatments your doctor will help you decide what is best for you.
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Whatever treatment you choose, take these precautions to prevent recurrences:
- Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible
- Wear waterproof sandals at swimming pools or other wet public areas
- Change your socks or hose daily
- Clip toenails straight across and keep them shorter than the tips of your toes
- Avoid tight hosiery, which promotes moisture retention, and wear synthetic fabric socks that wick moisture away from feet better than cotton or wool
At Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle Clinic, we pride ourselves in offering advanced treatment options and research-based medical solutions for fungal toenails and all foot and ankle conditions. If you would like more information or feel you may benefit from our services, please contact the office to learn more or schedule an appointment