Toenail fungus is a medical condition that manifests itself as the discoloration of the toenails. The condition’s first signs are the yellow or white spots under the toenail tip. If not looked after properly, it may spread and deepen, consequentially leading to the discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail.
What causes fungal nails?
The infection is caused by organisms known as fungi, with the most common called dermatophyte. Yeast and molds trapped between the nail and the bed could also result in the condition.
Toenails are often exposed to such organisms in wet or moist areas. The communal showers present in gyms and swimming pools are considered a common area where individuals may be exposed to the fungus.
Athletes are also highly susceptible to the condition. This is attributed to the fact that their toenails endure prolonged exposure to lots of sweat in their tight-fitting shoes. The repetitive trauma that the nails experience due to the constant movement may also result in the nails being separated from their beds, thus offering a prime spot for harboring fungal infections.
People with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and cancer are also more likely to develop the condition, as their immune system is weaker.
Using improperly sanitized instruments, like clippers, on your nails, could lead to this condition.
The likelihood of developing the condition is proliferated if a person has Athlete’s foot. The fungal infection could spread from the bridge between the toes into the nails, often affecting more than one toenail.
So, is the condition contagious?
Toenail fungus is not highly contagious. This does not take away from the fact that you will find members of a household or individuals who maintain close contact with one another to have the condition. The infection can spread from one person to another.
What are its signs and symptoms?
With nail fungus, you will find that the signs are always more pronounced than the symptoms. Individuals suffering from it will mainly find discomfort in its cosmetic aspect. However, it so happens that in more severe cases, the affected nails are painful, thickened, and may emit odors.
There is a myriad of ways the condition can manifest itself, including;
Beginning at the tip of the nail and working itself up, which is the most common occurrence, with the big toe being the one most susceptible. The condition first manifests itself as a discoloration at the corner of the toe and spreads slowly toward the nail cuticle. If not addressed quickly, it can spread to other nails.
Beginning from the cuticle towards the nail tip. This is a lesser occurring phenomenon, and mainly affects individuals with underlying medical conditions or with a weak immune system.
How do you test whether you have a fungal infection?
Physical examination is an unreliable means when it comes to testing such a condition. Merely relying on an optical diagnosis could lead to the condition being wrongly diagnosed. It is, therefore, essential to have a doctor have a look and conduct the necessary tests. This is especially essential if you have an underlying condition like diabetes.
Last modified on 2020-05-21