Toenail fungus, is a fungal infection which affects the toenails making them turn yellow, brownish, grey and distorted. Fungus breeds in dark and damp environments, and toenails which often remain moist in socks and shoes are more affected with fungal attacks, than any other part of the body.
The nail discolors, thickens or becomes brittle and at times nails may begin breaking as well. Also, the toenails can develop crumbled edges. In some cases, the toenail may separate from its bed causing the surrounding skin to turn red, itchy and swollen.
Toenail fungus can be unsightly, annoying, disfiguring, embarrassing and painful. Besides, it also impairs the ability to work. Once this problem starts off, it spreads from nail to nail, foot to foot and sometimes even to hands and fingernails.
What causes toenail fungus?
Factors that aggravate this disease are abnormal PH level of the skin, trauma to the nail, poor feet hygiene and a weak immunity. The nail offers a protective covering that allows the fungus to breed and flourish grow beneath it.
Toenail fungus can be contagious and can spread upon prolonged contact with an affected person. The most common symptoms of toenail fungus comprise bad-smelling toes and toenails, the infected toenail becoming hard and thick, yellowish, brownish or grayish discoloration of the toenail, falling off of the infected toenail, chipping and breaking of the toenail and formation of marks along the edges of the toenail.
Fungus attack on the toenail is not easy to treat and one needs to observe strict foot hygiene.
Some home remedies
Simple home remedies comprise sanitizing the affected area with hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, vinegar or tea tree oil. Creams and topical medication are not much effective against toenail fungus, because nails are too hard for these medicines to penetrate.
Antifungal medicines, taken orally, do work about 50% of the time. Medicated nail lacquer, which is a new discovery, works best against toenail fungus.
Prevention of the toenail fungus includes keeping the feet clean and dry. Wearing cotton, wool or silk socks, rather than nylon and socks made of synthetic fibers, is best as natural fabrics absorb more moisture and thus keep your feet dry.
Open shoes or flip flops help in keeping the feet aerated. When using public swimming pools, make sure that you wash your feet well and dry them before putting on your shoes back.