Nail fungus is one of the most common foot disorders and will affect almost half of the adult population.  Onychomycosis occurs because  a microscopic fungus infects the nails through a small crack or cut in the nail.

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Toenail fungus is more prominent in males but can infect anyone.  Heavy prespiring or being in humid environment can increase your risk for developing an infection.  Fungal infections can be contracted from shoes or toe nail trimming tools.  Avoid sharing shoes or nail trimming equipment with anyone who has a fungal infection.

Toenail fungal infections are generally caused by three types of fungi:  dermatophtes, yeast and mold.

  • Dermatophytes  grow on the skin, hair, and nails.  Athlete’s foot is caused by a dermatophyte fungus and can spread to the nails.  Dermatophytes invade the outer layers of the skin and nail do not go deeper.  Dermatophyte nail infections are the most common.
  • Molds grow in the soil and often you can spot molds on spoiled food.  Molds can also grow and survive in the nail and skin tissue, however molds are not transmittable from person to person.
  • Yeast grow on the skin, nails and can be found in the digestive tract.

 Toenail fungal infections can be separated to  different subtypes:  distal lateral subungual onynchomycosis, white superficial onychomycosis, and proximal subungual onychomycosis, endonyx onychomycosis , and candidal onychomycosis.

Distal subungual onychomcocis is the most common toenail fungal infection.  Caused by the dermatophyte Trichopyton rubrum, it can invade the nail and the skin below the nail.  A toenail infected may be discolored, thick and very brittle.  Often, after time the nail can separate from the nail bed.  If the nail is removed or falls off, the regrowth will also be infected if the fungus is not eradicated in the nail bed.  Nail bed infections are the most difficult to treat.

White superficial onychomycosis is the second most common causes of nail fungal infection.  It only affects the surface of the nail and doesn’t infect the nail bed or the skin beneath the nail.   Toenails may still become damaged, discolored and brittle but will not separate from the nail bed.
Often in severe toenail infections, the nail may have more than one fungi infection.

Treating a Toenail fungal infection.

Mild toenail fungus infections can be treated with over the counter topical  anti-fungal agents.  You can find these online or at your local pharmacies.  They come in creams, liquids and gels that can be applied directly to the affected toenail and surrounding tissue.

More severe infections may require oral anti-fungal prescriptions from a physician.  These usually have dangerous side effects which may not be appropriate for certain people and should not be taken unless advised by your doctor.  Fungal infections that have reached the nail bed and underlying tissue can be very difficult to treat.  It may take up to a year to eradicate a nail bed infection.  If the infection persists permanent removal of the nail may be necessary.