Everyone’s fingernails and toenails are slightly different in terms of their thickness and exact coloration. If look your neighbor’s sandaled feet, you might not see the exact same 10 nails as your own. But if you begin to notice changes in your own fingernails and toenails, such as thickening or yellowing, a fungal infection may be to blame.
What Is Nail Fungus?
While many types of nail fungal infections exist, microscopic organisms called dermatophytes cause most. You can become exposed to this fungus anywhere, particularly in moist places like public pools and showers at the gym. The dermatophytes enter your body through tiny cuts or spaces in your nail bed and then reproduce. Over time, the fungus can change the color, shine, texture and strength of your fingernails or toenails.
Risks for Nail Fungus
As you grow older, you become more at risk for nail fungus. This is largely because your circulation naturally becomes poorer as you age, which makes it easier for fungus to grow and spread. Nail fungus is more likely to affect the toes than the fingers, particularly if your feet are frequently exposed to moisture from sweat or a humid environment. People with diabetes and other conditions and those on medications that suppress the immune system are also more susceptible to nail fungus.
Complications of Nail Fungus
In addition to being unsightly and uncomfortable, nail fungus can lead to problems if you just ignore it and hope it will go away. Over time, the presence of the fungus can permanently damage your fingernails or toenails, leaving scarring or pits on their surfaces. If you have a compromised immune system from diabetes, medications or another condition, nail fungus can develop into other infections, including the potentially fatal condition of cellulitis.
Getting Rid of Nail Fungus
To avoid permanent damage or serious complications, it is important to seek treatment for your nail fungal infection as early as possible. While serious cases of nail fungus may require surgery to completely remove the nail, most infections respond to medications. The medicines used to treat nail fungus come in two forms: systemic medications taken by the mouth and local or topical treatments applied right to your nails.
Now that you are knowledgeable about what nail fungus is and you know that you want to get rid of it, check out our treatments page.