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Toe Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis) Treatment, Symptoms, Causes, Cure


Toe Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis) Picture

Also known as onychomycosis, toe nail fungus is a relatively a common unsightly condition caused by different types of microscopic organisms related to a fungus which belongs to the group of fungi called dermatophytes. The fungus grows in the nail bed and feeds on keratin, the protein them makes up the hard surface of the nail, then spreads to the warm and moist environment inside the patient’s shoes and socks.

Toe Nail Fungus affects 2 percent to 18 percent of all people worldwide and 3 percent to 5 percent of people in the United States. Although it is relatively rare in children the incidence increases with age affecting about half of Americans by the age of 70. This condition begins towards the far end of the toenail and may present patches of white or yellow discoloration or yellow horizontal streaks in the nail. At a later stage the nail will grow deformed, discolored, thick and have a foul odor.

Symptoms of toe nail fungus include a peculiar color from brown or yellow to white, thickening, swelling or crumbling of the nail, streaks, spots and even complete loss of the nail. This fungus can be picked up in damp areas such as shower stalls, swimming pools or public gyms. It is contagious and also can be spread from one toe to another or other parts of the body including the fingernails.

Many infected people never seek help considering that toe nail fungus is just a cosmetic problem and it the condition is untreated it will allow the fungi to proceed to the base of the nail, attack its root and cause the nail to grow very thick and deformed. As in other infections it is the big toe that is the first nail to be affected with this condition then later is spread to the adjacent nails. In rare cases it can affect the skin surrounding the nails.

Due to its chronic condition that gradually progresses involving more of the nail every day, the toe nail fungus rarely heals on its own and it is difficult to treat and eradicate because toenails grow more slowly. It is advisable to try to prevent it by wearing protective and comfortable shoes and sandals or flip-flops in public wet areas to avoid transmission from someone who has the infection. Wash your feet daily and dry them thoroughly, use good quality foot powder, wear clean stockings or socks and avoid nail polish on the toes because it can help the fungus to grow by sealing it into the nails.

If you require treatment there are several toe nail fungus therapies and your doctor or podiatrist can remove part of the infected nail by trimming it with clippers or dissolving it with a paste of urea and bifonazole or even prescribing nail polish containing amorolfine or ciclopirox when the infection is mild and localized.

In severe cases it might be necessary to remove the infected nails surgically, just remember that prevention is better than the cure.

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