It is estimated that about 14% of the population will experience onychomycosis, more commonly known as toenail fungus, at some point in their lives. Toenail fungus may affect people of all ages, but it is more common in adults over 60. Furthermore, it can quickly spread to other toenails if left untreated. This all-inclusive guide will teach you everything you need to know about toenail fungus, from identifying the symptoms to exploring treatment options.

How to Identify Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus can be difficult to identify in its early stages because the symptoms are often subtle. Symptoms typically begin as a white or yellow spot on the tip of the toenail. The toenail may become thickened, brittle, and discolored as the infection progresses. The nail may also separate from the nail bed.

Some nails turn yellow, brown, or green, while others may become white. Debris may build up under the nail, and the nail may emit a foul odor. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is crucial to see a doctor so you can receive an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.

What Causes Toenail Fungus?

There are many ways that you may contract toenail fungus. The fungi responsible for toenail fungus thrive in warm, damp environments, so wearing sweaty shoes or socks for extended periods of time may put you at risk.

Fungal nail infections may also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as public showers, pool decks, or locker room floors. In addition, sharing a toenail clipper with someone who has an infection may put you at risk.

There are several additional risk factors that may make you more susceptible to toenail fungus, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Poor circulation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trauma to the toenail
  • Psoriasis
  • Chemotherapy
  • A weak immune system due to an underlying condition
  • A family history of the condition

Fungus generally enters the nail through a crack in the nail, a small cut near the nail, or the separation between the nail and the nail bed. If you have any of the above risk factors, it is essential to take preventive measures to avoid contracting a fungal nail infection.

Self-Care to Prevent Toenail Fungus

Taking the time to care for your feet is the best way to prevent toenail fungus. A little bit of self-care may go a long way. Implementing the following measures may help you avoid nail infections and other foot problems:

Keep Your Nails Short and Clean

Trim your toenails regularly, and make sure to clean them thoroughly. Sanitize your nail clippers after each use and avoid sharing them with others. Keeping your nails short helps prevent fungus from getting under them. Clearing debris from under your nails also helps reduce your risk of infection.

Wear Properly Fitting Shoes

Wearing shoes that fit well and don’t rub or squeeze your feet may help prevent fungal nail infections. Shoes that are too tight increase the chances of trauma to the toenails, which makes it easier for fungus to take hold. It is also a great idea to alternate between shoes to give your feet a chance to breathe. Wearing open-toed shoes or sandals when possible also helps keep your feet dry and prevents the build-up of sweat.

Change Your Socks Daily

Wearing the same pair of socks day after day may lead to the build-up of sweat and bacteria. To prevent this, you should change your socks every day. If your feet sweat a lot, you may need to change your socks more than once a day. Wet socks should be removed and replaced with dry socks as soon as possible.

Use Antifungal Spray or Powder

If you are susceptible to foot fungus, using an antifungal spray or powder on your feet may help prevent the growth of fungi. Try using a powder on your feet before putting on socks and shoes. You can also spray your shoes with an antifungal solution to help prevent fungus growth.

Treatment Options for Toenail Fungus

If you already have a fungal nail infection, there are several treatment options available. First, your dermatologist typically examines your nails and tries to cut away the infected nail tissue. Additionally, they will try to clear any debris from under your nails before starting treatment. If the infection is severe, your dermatologist may prescribe antifungal medication. There are topical and oral antifungal medications available. 

In some cases, the removal of the nail is recommended. However, this is usually only recommended for people with severe infections who do not respond to other treatment options. There is still a chance that the fungus will return even after the nail is removed.

Participate in a Clinical Trial on Toenail Fungus at Olympian Clinical Research

At Olympian Clinical Research, we are committed to helping people find new and effective treatment options for toenail fungus. If you struggle to find a treatment option that works for you, consider participating in a clinical trial at Olympian Clinical Research. We are currently conducting a study exploring a possible treatment option for toenail fungus. 

To learn more and see if you qualify, please call (727) 935-0508.