How to Spot Nail Fungus and Treatment Options For Healthy Nails

What are the Symptoms of Nail Fungus?

Nails may be discolored (yellow, brown, black or may have white patchy spots). Fungal infections can cause nails to become brittle, dry and cracked and they may chip. Debris may collect underneath the nail and there may be a foul odor. Toenail fungus typically causes the toenail to thicken and general shoe wear may cause pain.

How is Nail Fungus Diagnosed?

Though many people attempt to self diagnose, it’s best to seek a physician’s opinion. Your doctor will first inspect the nails in question and if he or she feels they may be infected with a fungus, a test may be performed. Sometimes a small sample will be taken from the nail for further examination. The sample is sent to the lab to be tested for fungus. Tests will confirm the type of any fungus which is discovered from the sample.

How Will I Treat It?

An oral medication may be prescribed by your healthcare provider and is usually taken for up to 12 weeks. Sometimes a patient suffering from nail fungus will be given a prescription polish, which needs to be applied to the infected area daily for up to 48 weeks. Your healthcare provider will decide on which medication is right for your unique case.

Over the Counter Treatments

Though available, there are safety concerns with over-the-counter medications and their effectiveness is not proven. In essence, you may end up spending money, time and effort on something that doesn’t work and in the long run, you may have to seek a physician opinion anyway.

Home Remedies

There are many interesting home remedies out there. They vary from apple cider vinegar to Listerine. Many claim that these remedies do wonders, whereas others do not have a positive result. Do your research and make the decision which is best for you. Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments may be effective for some people, but they don’t necessarily work for severe fungus infections.

Prevention

Keeping your hands and feet dry is the first step in prevention. Fungus can enter into your bloodstream through tiny cuts and openings in the skin near the nail. Make sure you wear sandals or slippers when in public swimming pools, restrooms and locker rooms to avoid leaving yourself open to catching a fungal infection from someone else.

Fungi is attracted to moist, dark and warm places, so make sure you practice good hygiene, washing and drying your feet often. If you are more susceptible to fungal infection, make sure to avoid painting your finger and toenails and change your socks daily. Your shoes should be a comfortable fit and should not be too tight. Avoid wearing the same shoes continuously each day.

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