DIET AND FITNESS:

Nail the Problem --The Prevention
and Cure of Fungal Toenail
Infection
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Last updated January 22, 2017 (originally published February 13,
2010
)

By Muireann Prendergast, Contributing Columnist



We generally think of yellowing, brittle toenails as an
aesthetic issue and our first reaction is to cancel our
pedicure and resort to band aids, socks, and full shoes to
cover up unsightly toes. However, this shouldn’t be the case
as these can be signs of nail fungus. While it may sound
unpleasant, it is curable and can be prevented from recurring
with some straightforward practices.

Toenail fungus, also called "onychomycosis", happens when
fungi infects the nails.
The conditions that enable fungus to
thrive exist on
our dead hair and nail tissue assisted by the
flora that lives on our skin at a microscopic level.  

The Mayo Clinic explains that nail fungus has the appearance
of thickened, brittle, crumbly, discolored nails, sometimes
accompanied by pain, even itching and an unpleasant odor.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains that
fungal nail infections affect about 12% of all Americans.

And, according to a new study, the incidence of toenail
infection is increasing. By the age of 70, more than 50% of
us will have had toenail fungus infection, according to a
2014 study led by Dr. James Del Rosso of the Touro
University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Nevada.


What is even more striking, is that scientists are learning that
toenail infection occurs more often when you have
artherosclerosis,
blocked arteries. In fact, many chronic
health conditions such as blocked arteries, heart disease and
diabetes seem to accompany toenail fungus.  
A 2014 study
from Karabuk University Faculty of Medicine in Turkey
discovered that 37.8% of diabetics who
have toenail fungus
also have blocked arteries.

It is important to note that not all nail disorders are caused
by fungus. Nail thinning, Koilonychia, or “spoon nails” is
caused by
anemia while nail whitening can be associated
with liver or kidney problems. White lines on nails can
indicate a protein deficiency. If you are worried about the
color of your toenails or fingernails, you should always see a
doctor or dermatologist, rather than a nail beautician.

Different Types of Toenail Fungus






























The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains
that there are four main types of toenail fungus. The most
common is called Distal Subungual Onychomycosis (DSO)
which causes the nail plate to separate from the nail bed.
The toenail then becomes discolored as a result. According
to the AAFP this is called by a fungus called Trichophyton
Rubrum, which can run in families.

The second type of toenail fungus is called White Superficial
Onychomycosis, and it is less common, accounting for 10 %
of all fungal infections according to the AAFP. This type of
toenail discoloration is caused by an infection called
Trichophyton Mentagrophytes which affects the superficial
layers of the nail plate causing them to become discoloured
and brittle. This is the easiest kind of fungal nail infection to
treat as it affects only the nail plate and can be treated with
over-the-counter remedies.

The third type of toenail fungus infection is called Proximal
Subungual Onychomycosis which is also caused by
Trichophyton Rubrum. It is the least common form of fungal
nail infection and involves a white or yellow discoloration
near the nail cuticle.

The fourth kind of toenail fungus is yeast nail infection,
caused by the Candida Albicans fungus and called Candidal
Onychomycosis.  With this infection the nail plate can
become discolored and the skin surrounding the nail can
become swollen and painful. (Read more about
natural
remedies for yeast infection.)

[Update:

Some Toenail Infections Start Out as Foot Infections

Some toenail infections actually begin as infections of the
skin on your feet, then spread to your toenails. A 2012 study
from the University of York in the UK surveyed all other
existing studies on athlete's foot and other foot infections
which affect the toenails and found that certain classes of
drugs work a lot better than others.   The study, which
included 1,438 participants, found that terbinafine is the
most effective of all existing drugs. Terbinafine was found to
be more effective than another popular drug treatment
called griseofulvin, and terbinafine and itraconazole are more
effective than no treatment at all.]

Prevention Tips

1. Nail Health

The American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) suggests
that good nail maintenance is crucial to avoiding fungal toe
infections. This includes trimming toenails regularly and
doing so by cutting them straight across and rounding the
tips to strengthen nails. The AAD also stresses the
importance of keeping toenails clean and dry in order to
avoid the growth of infection.

2.
Wear Proper Fitting Shoes

The American Academy of Dermatologists also stresses the
importance of wearing proper fitting shoes. Shoes that are
too small hinder the air supply to the feet causing fungi to
thrive. It is also recommended that shoes be changed
regularly to prevent the spread of fungi.  (Read more about
health dangers caused by too tight shoes.)

3.
Visit Your Dermatologist Regularly        

Dermatologists are trained to detect early signs of foot fungi
so regular visits will prevent a minor toenail issue from
growing into an embarrassing and even painful problem later
on.

4.
Use Flip Flops

Flip flops encourage air circulation to feet and so are crucial
for healthy toenails. Dermatologists suggest that they be
worn in locker rooms and also around swimming pools so
that feet can be washed easily before going home to avoid
the growth of infection afterwards.

5.
Bring Your Own Towel

Infections can be contagious, so it is always a good idea not
to share towels when spending a day at a beach or a
swimming pool or an afternoon in the locker room.

Elimination Tips for Toenail Fungus


1.
Laquer Your Toes

Some doctors recommend anti-fungal nail lacquers like
Penlac, to be used once a day, to eliminate fungal nail
infections.

2.
Soak in Vinegar

The Mayo Clinic suggests that soaking feet in a mixture of
two parts warm water and one part vinegar for 20 minutes
daily for 15-20 minutes can help. Feet should be thoroughly
rinsed and dried afterwards.

3.
Over the Counter Anti-fungal Remedies

The Mayo Clinic lists Lamisil and Sporanox as effective over
the counter oral anti-fungal medication for killing toenail
fungus.

4.
Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is an effective natural anti-fungal remedy and
can also relieve any itching that might occur. Homeopaths
recommend rubbing it undiluted on affected nails.

5.
Laser Treatment

While lasers have been used in the treatment of toenail
fungus since the 1980’s, recently this process has become
somewhat more widespread. The efficacy of this approach is
currently undergoing a series of clinical trials to better
determine its efficacy as well as the direction of future laser
treatments. Talk with a Dermatologist for more information.







































































Related:
Foot Pain-Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies

Foot Massage -10 Health Conditions It Helps

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