Table of Contents
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Many people today get causes of toenail fungus which is similar to athlete’s foot. It is very surprising that you can have athlete’s foot and toenail fungus at the same time. There are several things you would notice on your toenail that would tell you now have toenail fungus like thickened toenails, brittle or crumbly toenails, when your toenails are distorted in shape, dark colors forming under your nail as a result of debris accumulated on your nails and when your nails are dull with no lustre or shine.
There is no fast cure for nail fungus but you should understand how they reproduce so as to be able to get rid of them. Fungi make spores or buds which in time begin to reproduce more. These buds are made from the cell walls and they come out with force. The buds when they land on a new source of food which is your skin, they begin to grow and sometimes they could be dormant.
When you take a good look at your nail, you would think that the fungus is gone only to later find out that it has started growing again. That is why you should always use fungus treatment for at least six months whenever you notice nail fungus growing around your nails.
Spores made from fungal cells are usually produced in large quantities and then sent out to colonize fresh substratum. Persistent care and treatment of fungus will help get rid of toenail fungus. Using anti-fungal solutions at the right time would help resolve the problem.
As far as the causes of toenail fungus are concerned, you can treat them yourself and help to prevent them from gaining ground. Keeping your immune system fully nourished by eating balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will help prevent toenail fungus.
You can also prevent fungal infection by keeping your feet dry and avoiding constant moisture. Always wear open shoes or sandals to eliminate every risk of bacteria forming around your foot. You can also wear water-proof sandals and wool socks so as to absorb the sweat that would form around your feet.
Recommended: ZetaClear includes an exclusive formula of natural oils each which has actually been shown to add to the promo of healthy looking nails.
What Causes Nail Fungus
Candida, non-dermatophytic and dermatophytes moulds get into your body several ways, dependent on the type of fungus you have. As the fungi spreads a number of symptoms appear, corresponding to the kind of damage they inflict on your nails.
Distal Subungual Onychomycosis is the most common type of nail fungus. This micro-organism enters the nail bed and underside of the nail plate. This infection affects the part of your nail that meets the nail bed and, therefore, the nail plate will turn cloudy and thick. The nail will become discolored as the fungus grows, appearing a murky brown of off-white color. After this your nail will separate from your nail bed.
After this, the most common type of nail fungus is Endonyx Onychomycosis. Your nail will start to look milky white but will not separate from the nail bed. Neither will they thicken or harden.
If you have white specks or powdery patches on the nail surface you may have White Superficial Onychomycosis. If so, nails will become brittle and rough.
Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis causes the area near the cuticle to develop white spots, streaks, and eventually discolor. Here, the end of your nail appears to look healthy, while the base of your nail turns white.
Candida can be a very nasty type of nail fungus to have. It inflames the area around the cuticles and, eventually, separates the nail from the nail bed. As with other types of nail fungus, the nail bed will start to thicken and harden. If left untreated, Candida can start to affect the fingers or toes around the affected nail.
Signs of Nail Fungus
In its most advanced stage, nail fungus brings about a condition known as Total Dystrophic Onychomycosis, where your entire nail turns thick, opaque, and a distasteful yellow-brown color.
Certain other kinds of yeast-related infections called Mycoses usually target your fingernails, making them green in color. The nails may also separate from the nail bed, and you will find a creamy yellow-white coating under the nail plate. In some cases, the base of your nail may also be inflamed, with a red, painful roll of flesh surrounding it.
Nail fungal infections are often preceded by an injury to your nail, where the slight opening between your nail and the nail bed unwittingly attracts the fungi. On the other hand, sometimes a mere barefoot stroll down the corridors of a damp locker room is all it takes for the fungus to sneak in. These disparate, and often surreptitious ways in which nail fungi enter your body, are also another reason why this condition usually goes undetected during its initial stages.
Irrespective of the cause, or type of fungus that your nails may be vulnerable to, you know it’s time to sit up and pay attention when:
- Your nails seem to be unusually brittle
- Your nails look opaque, white, or sport colored flecks
- Your nails lose their sheen, and lustre
- Your nails turn thick
- The shape of your nails seems distorted
- Your nails crumble
You find debris trapped under your nail (this indicates an opening between your nail bed and your nail plate). Your nails loosen from the nail bed, or detach from the cuticle. You feel a slight ache in your toes, or fingertips, and sense a faint foul odour.
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are literally a pain! Understanding the causes associated with this common foot condition can help you to prevent or prepare for future occurrences. The discomfort you feel in the affected toe is the result of the nail pushing into the skin that surrounds it. While it may seem that there is no rhyme or reason to the development of an ingrown toenail, there are factors and causes associated with them.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?
Look at the nails on your toes. Are they cut extremely short? Do they have a jagged appearance? One often overlooked cause of this condition is improper care of the nails. Nails that are trimmed at an angle are more likely to grow into the skin. Maybe your toenails tend to be too long? If you wait to cut your toenails, your shoes may push them into the skin.
How do your shoes fit? Shoes that are too narrow or too small are often troublesome when it comes to nail pain. Even if your toenails are trimmed properly, shoes that push on the sides and ends of the toes can lead to the nail penetrating the skin around the nail bed. If you haven’t had your feet measured in a while, take time to visit your local shoe store. Many people are surprised to find that their shoe size has changed. The feet tend to spread as we age, so don’t be shocked if you’ve moved up a size!
Have you suffered a foot injury recently? Dropping a can on your toe or stubbing it while walking can also result in this condition. A damaged nail may not grow properly and pierce the skin. These causes seem preventable. Can ingrown toenails be hereditary?
Technically, it’s the shape of the nail that is passed on from one relative to another. If there is a tendency in a family to have nails that are more curved, the risk of developing ingrown toenails increases, and it is likely that they will reoccur. This common cause of the condition can be reduced with consistent, proper nail care.
Why are Ingrown Toenails so Common in Children?
Children are busy playing and enjoying life — they often don’t take time for proper nail care. Instead, many kids tear their toenails instead of trimming them with clippers. This produces an opportunity for the nail to either become too short, or for the jagged edges to begin pushing into the skin as the nail re-grows. Take the time to check your child’s toenails periodically, and encourage them to use the proper tools for their care.
Toenail Fungus Causes, Thick, Discolored
Toenail fungus is usually caused by a category of fungi known as dermatophytes. The fungi do not need light to survive, and in fact, thrive in dark, damp places such as shoes. These tiny organisms enter the nail through tiny cracks that are undetectable to the human eye.
Fungi can affect finger nails as well, but that is much less common. Our hands, unlike our feet, are usually out in the open. Also, the feet receive less blood flow than the fingers which means that it is more difficult to fight infection in that area of the body.
The medical term for this common foot condition is onychomycosis. Almost 50% of Americans will have experienced it by the time they reach the age of 70. Fungal nails are rarely seen in children. I’ve noticed yellow and white spots on my toenails, should I be concerned?
Discoloration of the nail is one of the first signs of a problem. As the infection continues, you may notice thickening of the nail and even crumbling. Eventually a build-up of debris may result in a darkening of the toenail. Dullness and even a change in shape may also occur. In some cases, the area around the nail bed will become inflamed.
How did I get Toenail Fungus?
The biggest culprits of fungal toe infections are public swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers. The damp, humid conditions in these places promote the growth and spread of fungi. People often walk around such areas barefoot, and infection can occur with this skin-to-surface contact. It is further promoted by the dark and warmth of socks and shoes.
Aging is another risk factor for this condition. As we age, our circulatory system is not as efficient and less blood is pumped through it. This slows down the body’s natural response to attacks. Also, nails grow more slowly and become more brittle as we get older providing more opportunities for infection.
Other risk factors include:
- Illnesses, such as diabetes, lower the immune system, and make the body more susceptible to all kinds of infections.
- Wearing tight shoes and/or having damp socks for long periods of time.
- Skin conditions and/or nail injuries that provide an entry point for the fungus.
Other options include prescription creams or medicinal nail polish. Prescription oral medications are sometimes ordered by the doctor. However, these may have serious side effects, and may not be a viable option for some people. Instead, the doctor may recommend laser treatments which, after a series of treatments, can eliminate the fungus. In time a new, healthy toenail will replace the old, thickened one. In extreme cases, the nail may have to be surgically removed.
What Causes Toenail Discoloration
Problems with toenail discoloration might not sound like a particularly serious health issue, but in fact what causes toenail discoloration can vary greatly and it can be a sign of something harmless like overuse of dark nail varnish, or it can be a symptoms of a serious underlying medical condition like liver problems or poor circulation.
Most commonly what causes toenail discoloration is a fungal infection, but it may be useful for you to know some of the other causes, and what the different colors might indicate. At the least it can guide you to a treatment so that you can wear your favourite sandals next summer, or it might indicate you really need to see your doctor.
Potentially Causes Toenail Discoloration
- Trauma – dropping something on the nail can cause it to discolor
- Over use of dark nail vanish can stain the nail and cause it to change color – this does grow out as the new nail grows through bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, liver dysfunction, poor circulation – you should seek medical help straight away for any of these Genetic health issues such as yellow nail syndrome
- Colours your toenails can change to Black – where bleeding has not had anywhere to drain and has become trapped under the nail
- Red – bleeding under the nail from injury
- Yellow – Yellow nail syndrome, aging nails, nail varnish stain
- Green – fungal infection with debris beneath the nail that may have an unpleasant odour, bacterial infection caused by pseudomonas White – nail separation
- Brown – fungal infection
Nail Fungus Treatment For Nail Discoloration
Treatment depends on what is causing the discoloration. Fungal infections are hard to treat when in the nails, especially the toenails. The treatment has to get through the nail to the fungus if it is topical.
There are anti-fungal medications that can be used, over the counter options and natural alternative treatment. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely you are to be successful, but there is no guarantee and at best any treatment has an 80% success rate. Also treatment is usually over a period of at least several months as a health toenail takes a year or more to completely grow out.
Cause And Its Cure
In simple term it is the fungal infection of the toenails giving a yellow or cloudy appearance to the nails. The nails become so brittle and rough that it can separate from the nail bed. In the medical terminology it is also called Onychomycosis. This is a very common nail disorder mostly affecting toenails. It is caused by the dermatophyte fungus that thrives on the “keratin” which is the tough protein present in the toenail bed.
It is very ugly to look at, smells terrible and requires immediate medical attention.
- Initially the discoloration starts at the end of the nail which slowly grows inwards.
- Foul smell with yellow appearance of the nails.
- Toenails become thick and difficult to cut.
- Gradually there is swelling and you experience pain.
- The surrounding skin is inflamed with itches.
- Finally you observe yellow streaks on your toenail.
Yellow toenails are not meant to be uniformly coloured. There is every probability that only one toe nail gets affected or few. It might also happen that there is a yellow toenail streak with the fungus growing in a part of the toenail. Since your toenails are mostly covered under socks and shoes it helps in creation of the dark, moist and warm environment, ideal for fungal infections to thrive.
Studies and researches show that this is a rare disease among children but around 6%-10% of the adult populations get affected. Your nail is the barometer of your health as well the reflection of your general habits. Your toe nails that are yellow in colour indicate some internal health issues and also the ways you care for your toes.
Following are some of the most common causes of yellow toenail.
- Some medical issues like diabetes, kidney disorder, liver problems, lungs disease, nutritional deficiencies especially zinc and iron.
- Nail fungus is one of the early signs that make your nail brittle with a pungent odour.
- Studies report that apart from causing serious injury to health, smoking is one of the reasons for your yellow toenails.
- If you wear nail paints too heavily and frequently, you are depriving your nails from oxygen and thus the result is discoloration and yellow nails.
- If you have been subjected to a serious injury to the nail bed
- There are some who completely neglect the importance of a proper cleaning of feet and maintaining hygiene.
- If you are actively engaged in sports, you are vulnerable to toenail breakage. Thereby bacteria and fungi contaminate your toes, causing your toenails to become thick, brittle and turn yellow.
- Since it is contagious in nature, you can be contaminated with the same fungus from the affected person especially if you are enrolled in swimming clubs.
- If you have your pedicure done at the parlour where the instruments are not sterilized properly
- If you walk barefoot in public places like showers and locker rooms, you are likely to suffer from the infection.
- You must allow your feet to breathe for few hours a day and prevent your toe nails from the fungal infection.
1. Soak your toenails in some water mixed with a fresh lemon juice. This is one of the simplest natural home remedies as it helps to remove yellow stains from the nails.
2. You can also directly rub lemon slices on your toe nails.
3. Combine tea tree oil and olive oil or tea tree oil and lavender oil. You will certainly get rid of the problem within few weeks.
4. Wash your toenails thoroughly with anti bacterial soap and dry your feet completely with your towel before putting on socks or shoes.
5. Soak your nails for 15-20 minute in warm water with equal quantity of apple cider vinegar three times a day.
6. Avoid using nail polish and change your socks frequently.
7. A teaspoon of crushed juniper berries in warm water acts as a good natural cure.
8. Make a paste with three tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and apply it on your toenails.
9. Regularly apply a mixture of one teaspoon of olive oil and two drops of oregano essential oil for three weeks.
Since home remedial methods are mostly effective in the mild cases, it is advisable if you visit a doctor within few days after your own remedies don’t bring in positive effects.
Today, powerful antifungal drugs are used in the topical nail treatments- the most notables being Funginix and Zetaclear. They contain the clinically approved active ingredients that destroy fungus. Since these antifungal drugs penetrate deep into the nail bed, it is a common method of treatment.
Doctors also prescribe oral antifungal drugs that are available in a wide variety. This kind of treatment attacks the fungus through the bloodstream and is described as the “systematic medication”.
At an early stage yellow toenails can be cured with the help of the advanced laser technology.
Surgical removal of the affected nail is also an option which is generally prescribed if the infection is causing pain or difficulty is moving.
Prevention is the best remedy to any ailment and the same goes for yellow toenails. While dealing with the fungal infection, it is recommended that you intake a well balanced diet and include more probiotics like yogurt. Lastly but importantly, maintain hygiene and take preventive measures!
Sutapa Das is involved in healthcare market research since 2010. She is passionate about healthcare and loves to write on various health topics.