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Discover the Different Types of Toenail Fungus and Effective Treatment Options
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, affects millions of people worldwide. A common condition, it often shows as a persistent and unsightly problem. In fact, it causes discomfort and embarrassment for many individuals. Toenail fungus occurs when fungi, which are microscopic organisms, infect the nails. They thrive in warm, moist environments and can easily spread from person to person.
Understanding the different types of toenail fungus and their causes is essential in order to find the most effective treatment options. In this article, we discuss the common types of toenail fungus. We discuss their causes and risk factors, and prevention techniques. Included, find ideas for home treatments, natural treatment options, and medical treatment options. We also discuss when to see a doctor for toenail fungus and how to maintain healthy toenails post-treatment.
Common types of toenail fungus
There are several types of toenail fungus, each caused by different fungi. The most common types of toenail fungus include the following:
Dermatophytes are the most common type of toenail fungus. They include fungi such as Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Epidermophyton floccosum. These fungi feed on keratin, the protein found in nails, hair, and skin. Dermatophyte infections usually start at the tip of the nail and gradually progress towards the nail bed.
Yeast infections of the toenail, such as Candida species, are less common but still cause significant nail damage. Yeast infections are more likely to occur in individuals with weakened immune systems or those with long-term exposure to antibiotics, corticosteroids, or other medications that can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the body.
Non-dermatophyte molds, such as Scopulariopsis brevicaulis and Fusarium species, are another type of toenail fungus. These molds are less common than dermatophytes and yeasts but can still cause infections in the nails. Non-dermatophyte mold infections are often more resistant to treatment and may require more aggressive therapies.
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Causes and risk factors of toenail fungus
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing toenail fungus. Some of the most common causes and risk factors include:
As we age, our nails become more susceptible to fungal infections. This is because nails grow more slowly and become thicker, making them more prone to fungal invasion.
Individuals with a family history of toenail fungus are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Genetics may play a role in determining the susceptibility to fungal infections.
Wearing tight or damp shoes
Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. Wearing tight or damp shoes can create a favorable environment for fungal growth, increasing the risk of toenail fungus.
Injuries to the nail, such as a broken or cracked nail, can provide an entry point for fungi, increasing the risk of infection.
Excessive sweating can create a moist environment that encourages fungal growth. Individuals who sweat heavily may be at a higher risk of developing toenail fungus.
Preventing toenail fungus from developing
Preventing toenail fungus is essential to maintaining healthy toenails. Here are some tips to help prevent toenail fungus:
Maintain good hygiene
Washing your feet daily with soap and water can help prevent the growth of fungi. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly after washing, as fungi thrive in moist environments.
Wear breathable shoes
Choose shoes made of breathable materials, such as leather or canvas, to allow air to circulate around your feet. This can help prevent the buildup of moisture that encourages fungal growth.
Change socks regularly
Wearing clean, dry socks can help prevent toenail fungus. Change your socks regularly, especially if you sweat heavily.
Avoid walking barefoot in public areas
Walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms and swimming pools, can increase the risk of contracting toenail fungus. Wear flip-flops or sandals in these areas to protect your feet.
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Home treatments for toenail fungus
If you suspect you have toenail fungus, several home treatments effectively eliminate the infection. Some of the most popular home treatments include:
Over-the-counter antifungal creams and ointments
Over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams and ointments, such as clotrimazole and terbinafine, effectively treat mild to moderate toenail fungus. Apply the cream or ointment to the affected nails as directed on the product packaging.
Some people find success in treating toenail fungus with Vicks VapoRub, a popular over-the-counter cough suppressant. Apply a small amount of VapoRub to the affected nails daily until the infection clears up.
Hydrogen peroxide has antifungal properties and can be used as a home treatment for toenail fungus. Mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide, and soak the affected nails in the solution for 20 minutes daily until the infection clears up.
Natural treatment options for toenail fungus
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal and can be used to treat toenail fungus. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and apply the mixture to the affected nails twice daily.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties and can be used as a natural treatment for toenail fungus. Mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar, and soak the affected nails in the solution for 20 minutes daily until the infection clears up.
Oregano oil is another natural antifungal that can be used to treat toenail fungus. Mix a few drops of oregano oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and apply the mixture to the affected nails twice daily.
Medical treatment options for toenail fungus
If home and natural treatments are not effective in treating toenail fungus, it may be necessary to consult a doctor for medical treatment options. Some of the most common medical treatments for toenail fungus include:
Oral antifungal medications
Doctors often prescribe oral antifungal medications, such as terbinafine and itraconazole, to treat toenail fungus. These medications are taken for several weeks to months, depending on the severity of the infection.
Topical prescription medications
Topical prescription medications, such as ciclopirox and efinaconazole, can effectively treat toenail fungus. These medications are applied directly to the affected nails and may be used in conjunction with oral antifungal medications for more severe infections.
Laser therapy is a newer treatment option for toenail fungus. This non-invasive procedure uses light energy to target and destroy the fungi causing the infection without damaging the surrounding tissue.
When to see a doctor for toenail fungus
It is important to consult a doctor if you suspect that you have toenail fungus and home treatments have not been effective in eliminating the infection. Your doctor evaluates and can confirm the cause of your toenail problem, whether it is a fungus (EveryDayHealth). A doctor can accurately diagnose the condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment options. Additionally, individuals with diabetes or weakened immune systems should consult a doctor if they suspect they have toenail fungus, as these conditions can increase the risk of complications.
Maintaining healthy toenails post-treatment
After successfully treating toenail fungus, it is important to maintain healthy toenails to prevent a recurrence of the infection. Some tips for maintaining healthy toenails include:
Keep your nails trimmed
Wear moisture-wicking socks
Moisture-wicking socks can help keep your feet dry and prevent the growth of fungi. Choose socks made from materials such as polyester or nylon, which are effective at wicking away moisture.
Use antifungal powders or sprays
Using antifungal powders or sprays on your feet and in your shoes can help prevent the growth of fungi and reduce the risk of toenail fungus.
Toe Nail Fungus Types and Treatments for Happier Feet
Understanding the different types of toenail fungus and their causes is essential in order to find the most effective treatment options. By following the prevention techniques, home treatments, natural treatment options, and medical treatment options discussed in this article, you can successfully eliminate toenail fungus and maintain healthy toenails.
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