The average worker wears shoes for 9-12 hours a day. If their shoes are uncomfortable or if their socks are not made of breathable material, moisture will accumulate inside the shoes – ideal conditions for fungus to grow.
A fungal infection can make its way in through cuts in the skin or through cracks in the nail. Because toenail fungus is a progressive infection that hardly displays any serious symptoms in the early stages, the disease often goes unnoticed for long periods of time.
An infected toenail will slowly change color. You might notice a yellowish or whitish discoloration and a thickening of the toenail.
If left untreated, the infection can easily spread to the adjoining toenails as well as to the skin.
What Causes Toenail Fungus and is it Contagious?
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is most commonly caused by the tinea species (fungus). In some cases, toenail infections can be caused by the candida species (yeast).
Fungal infections can easily spread from one person to another either by physical contact or passed on when a person comes into contact with an area or space that is conducive for the transmission of the fungus.
A gym locker room, public swimming pools, a common shower space, or even beauty salons where people get pedicures are spaces where fungal infections can easily spread.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
In the initial stages, you might only notice a tiny spot of white or yellow under the toenail. However, as the infection sets in and grows, the nail might start to thicken and discolor.
In addition to these two symptoms, watch out for these 7 symptoms:
- The nail starts to crack or crumble at the edges.
- You might get a strong foul odor.
- The toenails might start splitting and develop pit marks.
- The nail borders will start feeling tender, or sore and inflamed.
- The nail surface is rough and abnormal.
- The toenail might lift or separate from the nail-bed.
- You might experience intermittent or constant pain ranging from mild to very severe.
In many cases, toenail fungus can become a chronic problem. So, it easily spreads to other nails and even the skin.
And because it is highly contagious, not only is it important for you to maintain personal foot hygiene and address the infection, but you also need to ensure that your foot care products (clippers, nail-files, etc.) and your footwear are not shared by other people.
Risk Factors for Developing Toenail Fungus
Diabetic individuals, or those who have a weak immune system and suffer from poor circulation are more prone to developing toenail fungus. In addition, consider the following risk factors.
- Skin or nail injury.
- Psoriasis or other skin infections and conditions.
- Excessive sweating.
- Living or working in damp or humid conditions.
- Wearing uncomfortable shoes or socks.
How is Toenail Fungus Treated?
It’s vital to consult with a professional foot and ankle doctor for proper diagnoses of toenail fungus.
In addition to a visual examination, your podiatrist might take a fungal sample to be tested in a lab. Based on the severity of the infection, your podiatrist will then plan a treatment path. Common treatment options include the following:
- You may be prescribed oral anti-fungal medication in addition to topical anti-fungal medication to be applied to the affected nail.
- A laser treatment may be used – this helps in removing the infected or damaged area of the nail and skin.
- If the infection is very severe, your podiatrist may recommend surgical removal of the infected nail.
Although toenail fungus cannot be prevented 100%, you can take preventive measures to limit the spread of the infection. Maintain a good foot care routine by keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing comfortable shoes and breathable socks and not allowing moisture buildup.
If, however, you do get infected or if you notice any of the above symptoms, consult with a professional foot and ankle doctor as soon as possible. It does not make sense to put this off.
Consult with Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle
Do you suffer from a toenail infection? If yes, set up a consultation with Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle.
If you suffer from a different ailment concerning your feet or ankles and are looking to consult with a professional podiatrist, we at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle can help you. Connect with us here or give us a call today to set up an appointment!