Our toenails provide a bit of protection from the world around us. You can expect them to get a little beat up and bruised now and then, but toenail fungus is an entirely different story.
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, can become a very unsightly condition if the fungus has had time to make a significant home within the nail. This also makes it more difficult to remove, but we are equipped to take the problem head on.
What causes a fungal toenail infection?
Toenail fungus can be caused by different types of organisms. The most common is known as a dermatophyte, but all of them can cause similar problems.
The nails and skin are natural defenders against fungal infections, but an invader can still get in at times via a cut, cracks, or other forms of damage in the area. The body’s immune system will then try to get rid of the fungus, but is sometimes unable to.
Symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:
- Increased nail thickness.
- Discoloration ranging from whitish to a sickly yellow or brown.
- A brittle, crumbly, or ragged texture to the nail.
- A distorted nail shape, or the nail lifting away from the nail bed.
- A slightly foul odor to the nail.
People are at increased risk for picking up toenail fungus due to either being in environments more acceptable to fungus or not being able to combat it as effectively.
Fungus lives best in warm, damp areas. If you walk barefoot through public locker rooms and around public pools, your risk of fungus increases. Same if your feet sweat a lot and are kept trapped in warm shoes or boots all day.
Having poor circulation can limit the body’s ability to fight off infection. Circulation can naturally decrease with age, or be the result of other conditions on the body.
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