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How to Diagnose Toenail Fungus

Dr. Kline & Green Team
6 November 2019
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Toenail fungus is a condition that is commonly left undiagnosed for quite a while, since it is an infection that tends to spread and worsen quite slowly. Often an individual will not always realize that they have toenail fungus at all, until some of the more noticeable symptoms from the fungal infection start to occur.

The medical name for toenail fungus is Onychomycosis, which is also referred to as tinea unguium. Fungal nail infections are a common condition and can also occur on both the fingernails and toenails. It is more common to find fungal infections on the toenail, because as we typically wear socks and shoes, the environment our feet and toes are exposed to tends to be more moist and damp, than compared to our fingers. However, it is perfectly possible to get a fungal nail infection on the fingers too. Typically when we talk about the symptoms for toenail fungus we’re also covering the symptoms for fingernail infections too.

Early Toenail Fungus Symptoms

Early nail fungus symptoms can be quite hard to identify. Generally, the very first symptoms of toenail fungus start as either a white or yellow spot on the nail. Often this occurs at the edges or sides of the nails. However, there are a number of different issues that can affect the nails. So do not always leap to the conclusion that the problem relates to a fungal infection.

When it comes to toenail fungus these minor symptoms can be overlooked since they can be quite mild. Often it can take a little while before one notices any significant changes to the appearance of the toenails.

Later Signs of Toenail Fungus 

As the fungal infection progresses the nail will start to discolor, typically turning a more yellow hue which may cover much of the nail, or be seen along the edges initially. Other nail changes can occur at this stage too. Symptoms can include the thickening of the nail, and hardening of the nail which in turn becomes brittle. Some people may not experience any worse symptoms than this, so as an issue it is often ignored and overlooked. However the infection can become more developed if left untreated for a long period of time.

The discoloration that is seen is caused by nail separating away from the nail bed. Nail fungus is a subungual infection, which means it occurs under the nail itself. As the infection becomes more severe over time then the coloration and symptoms can become worse. The issue can be cleared up fairly easily by keeping the toenail clean and dry, and by using over-the-counter treatments.

The medical name for when the nail separates from the nail bed is onycholysis. Nail fungus is one cause of this. The fungus causes the tissue around the nail plate to become harder and this causes the nail to separate from the nail bed. This is not the only cause. Damage to the nail, allergies, a compromised immune system and wearing shoes that are too tight can also cause this issue. So do not necessarily jump to the conclusion that nail fungus is always the cause of this.

Longer Term Signs of Toenail Fungus

Over time as the fungal infection spreads and gets worse, the toenail becomes increasingly discolored. In severe cases, an individual may find that due to the way the infection develops it may eventually reach the point where the nail itself can start to break away and disintegrate completely.

In addition to the change in the nail appearance there can also be some swelling around the infection area. Pain in and around the toenail area may also be a symptom of an infection. Nail removal caused by nail fungus can also cause discomfort. Even if your nail fungal issues aren’t causing you problems you should consider treating it since nail fungus can spread to other toes if left untreated.

The cuticle is the area around the nail that protects it from bacteria and infection. Unfortunately this area can become damaged and can lead to infection. Sometimes a cuticle infection can lead to nail fungus, and in other cases the two issues go hand in hand and a sufferer can have both issues at the same time.

Other Ways to Identify Toenail Fungus

If you suspect that you have toenail fungus but still aren’t sure, there are some other issues that may have facilitated the infection. Athlete’s foot, which is a fungal skin infection, may be the source of your nail fungus problem. As athlete’s foot fungus tends to sit close to the nail the fungal infection can have a dermatological effect too, spreading from the skin to the toes. So if you’ve had athlete’s foot, and suspect you might have nail fungus too, there is indeed a higher risk that  you also have toenail fungus. Ringworm, another type of skin infection is another issue that can lead to toenail fungus too.

What is the cause of toenail onychomycosis?

Nail fungus is caused by an overgrowth of fungus. This can be accelerated on the toenail since we often wear socks and shoes. This warm and sometimes moist environment can be contributing factors and help the fungus to grow.

Toenail fungus is not often caught from other people, but it is possible. One of the ways this type of fungus can be caught is from non-hygienic nail salons where the nail polish and pedicure tools are not cleaned properly. Most nail salons are well aware of the risk factors of transmitting nail fungus among their customers so normally ensure that the manicures that are undertaken are done hygienically with clean tools. However, the risk remains. So this may be one issue to consider if you have had nail fungus before.

Treatment of Onychomycosis

If you believe that you might have a case of toenail fungus there are some effective treatments available to you that are suitable as home remedies. Clear + Restore from Doctors Kline + Green is designed to resolve the issues of toenail fungus and with no side effects. It is also beneficial to ensure that your nails are trimmed regularly with nail clippers. If you’re still unsure whether you are suffering from nail fungus or you suspect a different type of infection then it is worth discussing your issues with a health care specialist, dermatologist or a podiatrist for confirmation.

The good news is if you do have nail fungus it is easily treated with some care and attention. So you do not have to suffer with the problem.

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