Toenail fungus (or Onychomycosis in medical terms) results when one of several types of fungus gains entry into a traumatized toe nail. The most common group of toenail fungus are dermatophytes, however molds and yeast can also be responsible for toe fungus.
The Causes of Toe Fungus
Although there are several different types of yeast, molds and fungi that cause the condition known as toe fungus, the environment the disease thrives in typically remains the same. Weaknesses in the nail, which can be caused by common occurrences such as ingrown toenails, bruising, or more commonly today, poorly cleansed pedicure supplies allow the microscopic fungi to gain entry onto and/or inside the nail.
The fungus then uses the warm, damp environment provided by socks and shoes to grow and spread. Symptoms of Toe Fungus The most common symptoms of toe fungus include nails that are:
– dry looking or without luster – brittle, ragged, or chipped in appearance – thicken or distorted in shape – yellow or darkened in color caused by the buildup of fungi beneath the nail
Toe fungus can persist for several years without pain or discomfort in the foot. It may also cause the toenail to separate completely from the nail bed and cause a foul odor.
Although this nail fungus is most commonly found in toes, cases of fingernail fungus have also been reported in persons with poor circulation and in those whose fingernail provide the warm, moist conditions required for the infection to grow.
Toenail Fungus Treatments
Over the counter nail fungal creams and sprays are currently available to treat mild cases of nail fungus. Most toenail fungus treatments are considered ineffective and serve to suppress the fungus deeper into the nail, worsening the problem. The most common oral medications that are prescribed today include Sporanox, Diflucan and Lamasil which help promote strong nail growth after some or all of the infected nail portion has been removed.
Natural Toenail Fungus Cures Natural toenail fungus remedies work to help the body eliminate the fungi from within. The most common natural cure starts with a soak consisting of 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 with vinegar. This treatment is then followed by a strong concentrated soak of Clorox bleach (1:4 mixture) allowing the bleach to be absorbed into the nail. After soaking, the nail should be rinsed in water, dried and covered with a 50/50 mix of Vaseline and tea tree oil. Repeated daily use of this remedy (3-4 times daily) has been slated to work effectively in less than 4 days. This success rate is of course assuming that the toe is removed from socks and shoes that may still contain the organisms that would cause reinfection.
Ways to Prevent Toenail Fungus
The most common methods used to prevent toenail fungus relies heavily on proper foot care. These preventive measures include:
– wearing dry socks and drying feet completely before putting on socks and/or shoes. – airing feet regularly during times they are known to perspire heavily. – wearing protective footwear such as sandals in public places such as shower rooms or gyms. – cleansing nail injuries regularly until they heal completely. – bleaching of socks and proper cleaning of shoes will prevent reinfection.
In general, moisture reduction on and around the foot and eliminating the breeding ground the fungi requires in order to survive is the absolute best combination available to prevent the spread of the toenail fungus.