A guide to toenail fungus

Cleaning woman's nail to evaluate types of toenail fungus

Onychomycosis, better known as toenail fungus, is a common ailment that affects millions of people every year. Characterized by changes in the color of the toenail, such as looking white, black, or yellow, the fungus is an infection underneath the nail that is caused by yeast or other bacteria. They attack the keratin found in your nail to survive, and if left untreated, toenail fungus can cause an embarrassing, foul-smelling odor that prevents you from wearing sandals or otherwise feeling comfortable being barefoot.

Types of toenail fungus with pictures

There are four different types of toenail fungus, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. Deciding which type of toenail fungus you have is easier if you know what to look for. These pictures act as a visual guide.

The most common type is distal subungual Onychomycosis, which accounts for as many as 85% of cases. The fungus is easy to distinguish because it causes thick, discolored nails, scaling underneath of it, and nails that easily crumble.

Onychomycosis, better known as toenail fungus, is a common ailment that affects millions of people every year. Characterized by changes in the color of the toenail, such as looking white, black, or yellow, the fungus is an infection underneath the nail that is caused by yeast or other bacteria. They attack the keratin found in your nail to survive, and if left untreated, toenail fungus can cause an embarrassing, foul-smelling odor that prevents you from wearing sandals or otherwise feeling comfortable being barefoot.

Some people suffer from white superficial Onychomycosis, which occurs when the nail turns white and begins to crumble.

People who have ailments that suppress their immune systems may suffer from proximal subungual Onychomycosis, which turns the nail white near the cuticle.

Finally, candidal Onychomycosis is a type of fungus that causes the nail to separate completely from the bed.

Tips for preventing toenail fungus

The easiest way to treat toenail fungus is to know the steps to toenail fungus prevention. Fungus thrives on moist, dark environments, so it is vital to wash and try feet thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. Additionally, shoes that fit properly are essential for allowing air to circulate to your feet. If you shower or swim in public locker rooms, pools, or beaches, be sure to wear shower shoes when walking around, and always change into dry socks if your feet become damp because of rain or snow.

Other methods for preventing toenail fungus include clipping your toenails regularly and straight across, spraying your shoes with anti-fungal protection products, and cleaning your nail clippers between each use.

Top Podiatrist Inserting Custom Orthotics into Young Woman's Shoe

Toenail fungus and your diet

Another excellent way to prevent fungus is to ensure you are eating a healthy diet. When you eat foods that are good for your body, your body will treat you better. If you want your body to be able to fight off fungus, stick to yogurts that are rich in probiotics, foods that have plenty of protein to help your nails regrow, and iron-rich foods to prevent brittle nails. Other excellent foods are those high in essential fatty acids and low-fat dairy products that have high percentages of vitamin D and calcium.

Topical medications for toenail fungus

If you find that you already suffer from toenail fungus, you may need a topical treatment. Some experts recommend trying Vicks VapoRub, an over-the-counter treatment. The topical ointment uses camphor and eucalyptus oil as its active ingredients, which can work to treat fungus. Simply apply a small amount to the affected toenails at least once per day. If Vicks doesn’t work, your podiatrist may be able to prescribe something more substantial like Jubila.

Oral medications for toenail fungus

If topical treatment doesn’t alleviate symptoms, your podiatrist may recommend an oral medication. Itraconazole and terbinafine require a three-month treatment course and have good success rates when used consistently. However, because these drugs have side effects on the liver, your doctor will want to check your liver function every few weeks during the course of treatment. Fluconazole can sometimes be used off-label to treat yeast in the toenails.

Treatment for severe toenail fungus cases

In rare cases, and after trying non-invasive toenail fungus treatment methods, your podiatrist may decide that your best option is debridement. This type of treatment involves removing the thick portions of the nails, thereby reducing pain and allowing topical treatments to penetrate the fungus more effectively.

Contact Arizona Foot Doctors

If you suspect that you suffer from one of the four types of toenail fungus, or Onychomycosis, contact the experts at Arizona Foot Doctors for diagnosis and treatment. We’re dedicated to helping patients and their families understand and be a part of the treatment process.