Toenail Fungus – What Is It and Where Does it Come From?

Most people imagine that ‘toenail fungus’ is a straightforward diagnosis, but in fact a fungal infection of the nail is not exclusively caused by one single fungus. So while the catchall name for infections of the nail – either finger or toe – is Onychomyosis, the complaint may be caused by a number of different fungi.

Having said that, the majority of infections are caused by either Candida – more commonly known as thrush; and Trichophyton, which is most closely associated with athlete’s foot and is also the cause of the huge majority of nail infections. This is a type of dermatophyte – also often known as ringworm. In the case of infections caused by athlete’s foot, symptoms are often combined with a bacterial infection.

If you catch a fungal infection in a temperate country, you are most likely to have a dermatophytic infection, while if you live in a very hot and humid country, you may have a strain of candida or other fungus. The only way to know for sure, is to have scrapings from the infected nail analysed in a lab.

In either case, like most fungi, those that infect the nail like a warm, moist environment to thrive. As a result feet are often a very inviting area for colonisation. This is aggravated by wearing socks and closed shoes. It is also aggravated by not drying your feet carefully after washing or swimming, and then putting shoes and socks on immediately. Perhaps as a result of this, toenail fungal infections are much more common than fingernail infections.

The usual culprits of gym locker rooms and public swimming pools are good breeding grounds for fungal infections, but for some reason some people are more susceptible than others. This means that living with someone with a toenail infection does not mean you are automatically going to catch it, yet it is likely to spread from one toe to another on the affected individual.

While there are contributory factors that will increase the likelihood of catching a fungal toenail infection, it is possible for anyone to develop an infection. In the event of infection developing it is imperative to treat it quickly and aggressively using a recommended toenail fungus remedy – and be prepared for treatment to take many months.

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