The medical term for nail fungus is onychomycosis.
Nail fungus can start as a spot on the toenail. As the fungal infection spreads, discoloration, thickening and crumbling often occur.
You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:
-Distorted in shape
-Debri build up under the nail
-Yellow-brown or dark discoloration
-Brittle texture or crumbling
Nail fungus can affect several nails. It can affect the fingernails, but is more commonly found in toenails. Fungal nail infection can develop in people of all ages, but it is more common in older adults. As the nail ages, it can become dry and brittle. These changes allow fungi to enter. Reduced blood circulation to the toes and weakend immune system are other factors that may play a role.
Factors that increase the risk for developing fungal nails are:
-Reduced blood flow to the feet and toes
-History of athlete's foot
When to see a doctor
You should see a doctor as soon as you suspect or notice nail changes. Additionally, If you have diabetes, a nail injury or poor circulation, a podiatrist not only treats fungal nails, but also provides palliative foot care.
If self care steps or previous treatments do not help, there are several treatment options that a podiatrist can provide. Nail specimens are obtained and sent to a lab for evaluation and diagnosis. This is followed by treatment according to the results. Treatments for fungal nails include periodic nail debridement, topical antifungals, oral antifungals, and laser nail treatments. Antifungal nail polish is also available.
-Wash your feet regularly
-Trim nails straight across and smooth edges with a file
-Wear sweat absorbing socks, or change throughout the day
-Choose shoes made of materials that breathe
-Give up artificial, or acrylic nail overlay
-Choose nail salons that use sterilized tools
-Wear shoes in pool areas and common showers
-Discard old shoes or treat them with disinfectants