The toenail is a thickened extension of the skin’s top layer, and it is made of the same kind of protein, which is called keratin. The toenail grows from a particular area underneath the skin, called the matrix, and it is connected to the nail bed and blood vessels underneath as well. Whether you are aware of it or not, our toenails go through a lot of stress, especially when we constantly wear shoes, when we stub our toes, or when we have damp socks and shoes, which can lead to the buildup of fungi and bacteria. This is one reason why we may experience problems with our toenails from time to time, and one of the most common issues is toenail fungus. But what exactly causes toenail fungus, and how can we effectively treat it? If you have been suffering from toenail fungus for some time and would like to do away with it once and for all, here’s what you should know.
What causes it?
There are many factors which can cause toenail fungus, but here’s the thing: the fungus itself may often be the same kind which causes another condition, athlete’s foot. As a matter of fact, individuals who are prone to developing athlete’s foot may also be prone to developing toenail fungus. Toenail fungus can affect everyone, but it more commonly affects men, especially as an individual gets older. Also, some people with diseases like diabetes may also be more susceptible to forming the condition, and it also affects people with lower or weaker immune systems than most. Other causes of toenail fungus include hyperhidrosis (a condition which causes sweaty feet), nail trauma, shoes which provide a dark and moist environment for fungus to thrive, and the sharing of nail equipment or footwear with people who already have the condition.
The symptoms of toenail fungus
Toenail fungus symptoms can vary, but the most common symptom of the condition is nail discolouration, where the nail becomes white, brownish yellow, or yellow. The nail may also thicken as the condition worsens, and there will often be an increase in white particles or debris underneath the nail. The infected portion of the nail may also appear to be loose from the skin or nail bed, and the nail may look like it is crumbling or breaking down.
If you visit a specialist for toenail fungus, treatment may include the use of antifungal medication combined with nail debridement, where the nail is trimmed, and debris is removed from the nail. Debridement serves to lessen the nail’s thickness, and it may also allow the medication to penetrate more thoroughly. Debridement is usually performed once a month for better results.
The use of antifungal medication is also common, particularly in the form of topical treatments. There are both prescription and over-the-counter topical treatments, but they sometimes have limited success because the fungus lies deep within the nail and beneath the nail bed, and treatment like this doesn’t usually penetrate directly into the nail bed.
Another form of toenail fungus treatment which has been getting a lot of praise is laser treatment. Unlike other treatment which can take months, and which may be particularly burdensome, laser treatment is usually done in only two or three sessions, depending on the severity of the condition. It is also painless and doesn’t require recovery, with each session lasting only between 12 to 20 minutes.
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