What is a Fungal Nail?
Onychomycosis, also known as a fungal nail infection, is an infection of the finger or toenail caused by a fungus. It is a common condition that causes nails to thicken, discolor or become brittle and crumbly. It can occur to almost any finger or toe.
How do you know if you have a Fungal Nail?
If you have a fungus infection in your nails, you may notice the nail becoming thick, brittle, and discolored (white, yellow, or brown). It may also become distorted in shape or separate from the nail bed. You may also notice a bad odor coming from your nail.
Symptoms of a Fungal Nail?
- Discoloration of the nail, usually yellow-brown or green-brown
- Thickening and/or crumbling of the nail
- White or Yellow Streaks or Spots on the nail
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged nail edges
- Pain or discomfort underneath the nail
- Foul odor coming from the toe or fingernail
- Nail separation from the nail bed
- Changes in the nail's shape
- Pits or chips in the nail
- Discomfort or pain in the affected area
What Causes a Fungal Nail to Develop?
Fungi that thrive in warm, moist environments cause fungal nail infections. These fungi can spread from person to person or be picked up from contaminated surfaces such as shower floors or towel racks. Other causes may include the following:
- Poor hygiene: Not properly cleaning and drying the feet can make it easier for a fungal infection to take hold
- Minor nail or skin injuries: Fungal infections can enter through a small cut or scrape on the foot or toenail
- Excessive moisture: Wearing sweaty socks and shoes, or using public showers or swimming pools, can create a humid environment perfect for fungal growth
- Reduced immunity: People with weakened immune systems are more at risk of fungal nail infections
- Weakened nails: Trauma or vitamin deficiencies can cause weakened nails, making them more susceptible to fungal infections
- Family history: You may be more prone to get a fungal nail infection if someone in your family has had one.
- People who have poor circulation in their feet or a weakened immune system are more likely to develop fungal nail infections
- Wearing shoes or socks that allow moisture to build up
- Not drying feet completely after swimming or not cleaning the feet properly.
- Hormonal changes
- Not washing hands after coming in contact with contaminated surfaces can also increase the risk of developing a fungal nail infection
How to Treat a Fungal Nail
Treating a fungal nail infection usually involves taking antifungal medications. These can be taken by mouth or applied directly to the affected nail. Over-the-counter medications, such as terbinafine or clotrimazole, are sometimes used to treat mild infections.
(Note: Consult with your podiatrist)
Prescription-strength antifungal medications can be more effective for severe cases. The medication must be taken for several weeks or months to eliminate the infection.
Other treatments that can help include:
- Keeping the nails trimmed.
- Filing away the infected portion of the nail.
- Applying a medicated nail lacquer.
Your podiatrist may also recommend surgical removal of the affected part of the nail. In severe cases, lasers or other procedures may be used.
Tips to Prevent a Fungal Nail from Developing
- Discard all old nail polish
- Stop using artificial nails
- Regularly washing your hands in warm water and soap
- Keep feet clean and dry
- Wear protective gloves when performing housework or gardening
- Wear clean socks and shoes everyday
- Refrain from wearing tight shoes or tight hosiery
- Trim toenails regularly
- Avoid going barefoot in public spaces or moist areas like public restrooms or swimming pools.
- Avoid sharing nail clippers and nail files
- Manage any medical conditions such as diabetes or psoriasis
- Consult a podiatrist for any signs of fungal nail infection
At-Home Solutions for Fungal Nail Infections
- Tea Tree Oil: The antifungal properties of tea tree oil can aid in the fight against nail fungus. Mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as olive oil and apply it to the affected area.
- Vinegar: Vinegar can also fight off nail fungus. Spend at least 20 minutes soaking your feet in warm water with a cup of white vinegar several times weekly.
- Oregano Oil: Oregano oil has antifungal properties that can help combat nail fungus and can be applied topically.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice has acidic properties that can help to kill off infection-causing fungi. You can soak your feet in warm water, lemon juice, and a few drops of tea tree oil.
- Oral Supplements: Oral supplements like garlic, goldenseal, and thyme have antifungal properties that help fight nail fungus. Speak to your podiatrist before attempting to use any supplements.
Planning Your Next Visit
Our team at Greenberg Podiatry in Ottawa is devoted to providing high-quality and compassionate care. We take pride in staying up-to-date on the most current treatments so our patients can continue living an active life while maintaining their physical well-being. Our goal is to treat your existing ailments and anticipate potential problems before they start. We go above and beyond typical healthcare solutions to ensure you receive the best possible service.
Take advantage of our personalized advice by contacting Greenberg Podiatry today! A few simple steps could significantly impact your quality of life.