Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in color and smells foul. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails and the skin. Nails may become thicker making them difficult to trim and make wearing closed in shoes painful.
Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where you are likely to be walking barefoot (such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers). Injury to the nail bed may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration.
Treatments may vary, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. Common treatments include topical anti-fungal medications, oral anti-fungal medications, and laser treatment. The earlier you seek professional treatment, the greater your chance at getting your nails to clear.
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