Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a fairly common condition that disfigures and can destroy the toenail. The big toe and the little toe are the nails that are most likely to be affected. This condition is caused by any one of the many types of fungi that grow in the moist warm environment in your shoes. As they grow, they invade and feed on the protein (keratin) that makes up the hard surface of the toenails.
Wearing tight-fitting shoes and layers of nail polish increases the risk of developing toenail fungus. It can also be spread person-to-person in public areas, such as locker rooms and showers. Having a chronic condition that affects your circulation, such as diabetes, or HIV also increases your risk.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
The affected nail will become discoloured (yellow or brown) and will become very thick and overgrown. You may notice foul-smelling debris under the nail. The nail may crumble and eventually completely fall off, or it may become so thick that it is very painful to wear shoes.
Treatment of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus often becomes a chronic condition, and if it is not painful, many people do not get treatment. The nail can be trimmed and filed down carefully, either at home or by a foot care nurse. If the infection is mild and very localized, you can apply Tea Tree oil to the affected nail this often stops the fungus from spreading any further, the oil must be applied daily until the fungal nail grows out.
Your footcare professional will be able to suggest other types of drops or sprays to apply to the nail rid your nails of this fungus and prevent further spread.
There are some oral medications available from your doctor for the treatment of nail fungus but these medications need to be monitored by your doctor as they have been known to cause liver damage.