A toenail fungus is an infection just under the toenail surface. When debris starts to accumulate underneath the nail, the nail may darken and white spots may appear. This infection often spreads to the skin or the adjacent toenails. A toenail fungus may not seem like a serious issue initially, but it can spread quite quickly and could start to cause serious pain.
Toenail fungus happens when the feet make contact with tiny fungi. This can happen whenever a person walks barefoot, but it is especially common in damp areas like pools or locker rooms. Toenail fungus happens more often when a person has any type of cut or injury around the nail bed, as it provides an easy access point for the fungi. People who have a suppressed immune system, including people with conditions like diabetes, are more likely to develop toenail fungus.
The main symptom of toenail fungus is a change in the color of the toenail. It will usually grow progressively darker and may have spots. Pain can also occur if people don't trim their nails regularly due to thickening.
If the nails change color, grow thicker, or change in shape, it is best to see the podiatrist. Toenail fungus can't be ignored because it will often become a skin problem as well. If a person seeks treatment promptly, the odds of eradicating the fungus and having clear nails again can be quite good.
The treatment for toenail fungus depends on several things, including whether it has spread. Antifungal medications may be helpful, and topical treatments may also be used. Sometimes, removal of the infected nail is necessary. Laser treatments are also used to treat toenail fungus today. The podiatrist will customize a treatment plan for each person's toenail and skin issues.