Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection that occurs underneath the toenail. It is a common condition that can make simple tasks, such as walking, painful. This infection is also capable of spreading to other toenails, skin or fingernails and often makes the nail have a darker color and foul odor. Toenail fungus can also coexist with other bacterial or yeast in or around the nail.
Avoiding contact with fungi is difficult and toenails are very vulnerable if they are in damp surroundings such as a swimming pool, sweaty shoes, or showers.
People who have illnesses such as diabetes or a history of athlete’s foot are more prone to suffer from toenail fungus.
Symptoms include discoloration, foul odor, thick toenails, and white marks on the nail plate. Toenail fungus can be present for several years without causing discomfort to the affected person.
Daily cleansing of the affected toenail over several months can temporarily get rid of mild infections. The white marks on the nail plate can be filed off and an over-the-counter antifungal agent can be applied after.
In general, it is recommended that you visit a podiatrist if you see any deformity, discoloration, or thickening of your toenails. The chances of making a full recovery is higher the earlier you see a professional.
Making sure that your feet are clean and dry can really increase your chances of avoiding toenail fungus. Thus, proper hygiene and inspection are necessary:
- Wear shower shoes when walking around wet areas such as a pool
- Wear shoes that fit properly and allow sufficient air to reach the foot
- Wash feet with soap and water before drying
- Change socks and shoes more than once each day
- Keep toenails short and clean
- Disinfect instruments for cutting nails
- Don’t put nail polish on affected nails