Can nail fungus cause infection?

A severe case of nail fungus can be painful and cause permanent nail damage. And it can cause other serious infections that spread beyond your feet if you have a depressed immune system due to medicines, diabetes or other conditions.

Can nail fungus cause infection?

A severe case of nail fungus can be painful and cause permanent nail damage. And it can cause other serious infections that spread beyond your feet if you have a depressed immune system due to medicines, diabetes or other conditions. More than one type of fungus can affect the toenails. Dermatophytes (a type of mold) cause most fungal toenail infections.

Fungal nail infections can be caused by many different types of fungi (yeasts or molds) that live in the environment. Small cracks in the nail or in the surrounding skin can allow these germs to enter the nail and cause an infection. This complication of fungal toenail infection is of particular concern to people with diabetes and other chronic conditions that weaken the immune system. If a fungus on the toenails spreads to the skin and causes it to crack, bacteria can enter.

This can cause cellulitis, a condition that causes swelling, redness, and tenderness of the skin that needs to be treated with antibiotics, according to the U.S. UU. In severe cases of cellulitis, the infection can enter the bloodstream and be fatal. Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of fungi that cause athlete's foot to infect the nails.

Microscopic organisms called fungi cause fungal nail infections; they don't require sunlight to survive, so they can thrive in these areas. The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Toenail fungus usually starts subtly, so you may not notice anything different on the nail immediately. Another problem is that untreated fungi can eventually spread to neighboring toenails or to the skin of the foot, causing athlete's foot.

Even if an infected nail doesn't loosen, it may need to be removed if the fungus doesn't go away with traditional treatments. The doctor may take a small sample of your toenail and have it tested to confirm the presence of a fungus. While many people are otherwise healthy and may think it is a cosmetic problem, ignoring a toenail infected with fungus could have health consequences beyond appearances. It may take several months to remove toenail fungus, because even nails that grow at an average rate do not grow quickly.

Because toenail fungus (onychomycosis) is usually not painful, many people delay seeking treatment, says Peter Joseph, DPM, podiatrist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. Since fungi thrive in dark and warm places, toenails are more likely to be affected than fingernails. Fortunately, the Easton Dermatology Associates team can address any nail fungus problem you may have with a diverse menu of treatment options. Oral terbinafine is considered the first-line treatment for confirmed onychomycosis; treatment is usually 6 weeks for fingernails and 12 weeks for toenails.

Topical treatments with nail fungus can appear clear fungal nail infections, but they often do not completely cure the infection. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains that fungus-infected toenails can separate from the nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis. With all the serious health hazards out there, such as cancer and diabetes, having a yellowish toenail from toenail fungus can seem quite negligible. The experts at Easton Dermatology Associates offer personalized treatment for your exact situation, whether you have noticed an irregularity in your toenail or have been fighting fungus for a while.

Toenail fungus occurs when fungus gets between the toenail and the toenail bed (tissue just below the toenail). .

Glenna Ellegood
Glenna Ellegood

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