Fungal Nail Infection and When You Should See A Foot Specialist
There are a number of nail infections that can occur on your feet. This is probably why “foot specialist near me” is a very commonly searched thing on google. One of the most common nail infections is fungal nail infections. Though there are a plethora of nail infections that can affect you, this article’s main focus will be on Fungal Nail Infections and when you should visit a foot specialist. These infections are quite easy to avoid with proper foot care and hygiene, so let’s dive right in and understand everything we can about fungal nail infections so you can prevent them from occurring, or get the right care needed if you’ve been affected.
Why Do Fungal Nail Infections Develop?
The first step in understanding how to deal with a fungal nail infection is by understanding how it happens. This way you can prevent it from recurring, or if you haven’t been affected yet, prevent it from happening altogether.
A fungal nail infection develops from the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. It’s common knowledge that fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, so the nails on your feet have ideal conditions for fungi to naturally overpopulate. Most fungal nail infections are caused by the very same fungi that cause “athlete’s foot”, ringworm, and “jock itch”. The rapid overpopulation of fungi that are already present in your body can cause nail infections. Fungal nail infections are quite communicable, so if you’ve come in contact with someone who had a fungal infection, you may have contracted it too. Toenails tend to be affected more than fingernails, since they’re usually confined to shoes, which are the ideal breeding grounds for these fungi.
Pedicures at nail salons can also lead to fungal nail infections, which is why you need to make sure the tools are cleaned and disinfected regularly and well. Tools like nail cutters and files can very easily spread fungal nail infections from person to person if they’re not sanitized properly.
What Does It Look Like?
A fungal nail infection can affect either part of the nail, the entire nail, or even more than one nail. If you show these signs, you may have a fungal nail infection:
- Distorted nail that lifts off from the nail bed
- Odor coming from the nail
- Brittle or thickened nail
Are You At Risk For Fungal Nail Infections?
Like most infections and diseases, certain people are more at risk when it comes to contracting nail infections. You’re at higher risk of contracting fungal nail infections if you:
- Have diabetes
- Are over 65 years of age
- Wear artificial nails / regularly get pedicures
- Have a disease that causes poor circulation
- Have a nail injury
- Swim in public swimming pools often
- Have a skin injury around your nail
- Wear close-toed shoes often
- Have a weakened immune system
- Leave your toes moist for extended periods of time
Nail infections have been known to occur more often in men than women, and are found in adults more than children. If you have family members that are prone to these nail infections, you also run a high risk of getting them yourself. Nail infections are more likely to increase with age as well, since older adults have poorer circulation so their nails grow slowly and thicken more.
4 Common Fungi That Can Creep Up On Your Nails
Here are the most common fungi known to cause nail infections:
- Distal Subungual Infection:
The most common type of fungal nail infection which can develop on both fingernails and toenails. When infected by this king of fungus, the outer edge of the nail will look jagged with white and/or yellow streaks across the nail. This infection affects the nail bed and the underside of the nail.
- White Superficial Infection:
This usually affects toenails. The fungus will attack the top layers of the nail and create very distinct white spots on the nail. These white patches insidiously begin to cover the entire nail, which then becomes rough, soft, and prone to crumbling. The spots on the nail can also become flaky.
- Proximal Subungual Infection:
These are fairly uncommon, but can affect both toenails and fingernails. This nail infection is characterized by yellow spots that appear at the base of the nail as the infection begins to spread upwards. This usually occurs in people with low immunity and can also happen due to minor injury to the nail.
- Candida Infection:
Candida yeasts cause this type of nail infection. It usually occurs in nails that have been injured before or have suffered from a prior infection. This type of fungal nail infection usually occurs on fingernails and happens to people who frequently soak their hand in water. It starts by the cuticle around the nail, which becomes swollen and red and tender to touch. The nail may even lift off the nail bed, or fall off entirely.
It is not recommended to take over-the-counter medicines for nail infections since the results aren’t always reliable. You must visit a foot specialist to determine whether you have a nail infection, and if you do, they may prescribe oral antifungal medicines like:
They may even prescribe other forms of anti-fungal treatments, like antifungal nail lacquer or topical treatments. You just have to brush these on your nails like you would nail polish. Depending on how bad the nail infection is, you may have to take these medicines for months, and topical “solutions” aren’t very ideal in curing nail infections.
Prevention is always better than cure, so here’s a list of things to do / avoid to make sure you don’t have to heal with a nasty nail infection in the future.
- Dry your feet well after showering, especially between your toes
- Only get manicures and pedicures from safe and trusted salons
- Try not to be barefoot in public places
- Try to cut down on your usage of nail polish / artificial nails
- Wash your hands well after touching infected nails
These are some simple steps to ensure you don’t suffer from a nail infection. Apart from this, there are some simple lifestyle changes that can help too. For example, taking care of your nails and keeping them trimmed and clean. This helps a lot when it comes to preventing infections. Try not to injure the skin around your nails by avoiding biting your nails and/or picking your cuticles. If you wash dishes a lot or do work that requires you to wet your hands / feet a lot, wear gloves / feet protection. All of these are very simple and can potentially lower your risk of getting a nail infection. This, paired with proper foot care and hygiene can really go a long way!
Now you know what to look for when looking for a nail infection, what kinds of fungi can affect your nails, and how to prevent nail infections from occurring. If you find yourself affected by any of the symptoms mentioned above, or simply feel like something’s wrong, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor or a foot specialist. For quick results, you can simply google search “foot specialist near me”, or better yet, if you want quality foot care and treatment, you can book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic!