The presence of toenail fungus in humans is a major cause for concern, given the increasing rate of its occurrence in the medical setting. There are a number of different types of fungi that are involved in toenail and fingernail fungal infections, with each type presenting its own risk factors and complications if left untreated. The goal of this article is to provide a basic understanding of the symptoms and causes of toenail fungus. Armed with this information, you can begin to develop a plan of action that will help you manage your toenail fungus problem.
To begin, let’s take a look at some of the most common and troublesome types of fungal nail infections. There is probably a close relative among these – nail fungus (onychomycosis). If you think you have onychomycosis, don’t delay seeing a doctor. Nail fungal infections can be difficult to detect and, in some cases, may go unnoticed until the nail becomes thick and discolored. In these situations, treating onychomycosis early is crucial.
Nail fungal infections can also occur in fingernail or toenail fungus. Although these conditions are not considered to be as common as a toenail fungus, they are certainly no less concerning. In fact, fingernail and toenail fungal infections represent the most common site for viral toenail infections. Here’s why:
Fungal nail symptoms tend to be subtle, making them hard to recognize at first glance. Some common symptoms include a yellowish discoloration of the nail, typically starting near the tip (or “tip”) of the nail and progressing back towards the cuticle. This discoloration typically develops slowly and does not cause pain. In some cases, the yellow discoloration of the nail can be so subtle that it is confused with a toenail infection or other superficial nail abnormality. Onychomycosis can cause permanent discoloration of the nail and may not even be noticed until the nail becomes cracked, softened, or distorted.
Nail fungus nail symptoms are often mistaken for other, more serious conditions. But just because your nails look unhealthy doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a deeper problem. In order to really determine if you have onychomycosis, you need to visit a doctor. Even if your condition is caused by fungal bacteria, a biopsy of the nail is not enough to make a positive diagnosis. Your doctor will have to perform a thorough physical examination and take a sample of your infected toenail to be sent to a lab. There, a pathologist can do laboratory tests to identify the fungus and, if necessary, prescribe treatment.
Fungal nail infections are extremely common, and nearly half of people experience one or more symptoms. In most cases, the toenail fungus will clear up itself in time. Occasionally, however, it may remain in the toenail or other parts of the body and produce further symptoms or even result in toenail death. Untreated onychomycosis can lead to serious health problems, including toenail cancer and severe pain and damage to other parts of the body, such as the heart. It is important to be careful, though, and to promptly seek medical attention if you think that you have an onychomycosis.