Toenail Fungus Spreading
At first glance or even whiff of the scent, the foul appearance of toenail fungus can be repulsive. It might seem minuscule, but it can drive other people away from you.
A Must-Read: How to Cut Toenails if You Can’t Reach Them
The truth is that toenail fungus, clinically known as onychomycosis, presents in up to 14 percent of the American population and higher rates overseas and the elderly. Your first question might be, “Can toenail fungus spread to other parts of the body?”
Discover everything you need to know to answer this question right here.
What Is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is exactly what it sounds like. It is an infection that, when examined microscopically, meets the criteria for a fungus.
This type of fungus lives in nail beds and compromised skin, usually found in the toe and foot areas. A hangnail gone wrong can lead to toenail fungus, for example.
You get the hangnail, ignore it, it leads to infection, and you’ve got all of the ingredients you need for toenail fungus. Learn hangnail prevention secrets to get yourself that much is closer to avoiding this problem of the fungus.
For instance, any kind of fungus, a mushroom, likes a nice warm and dark place to fester. If it is moist, all the better.
Its first appearance presents as yellowish skin that is cracked or dry. In some cases, but not all, there is also a foul odor.
It doesn’t happen to everybody, only roughly 20 percent of the population. And it is treatable.
Athlete’s shoes are often the perfect breeding ground for this condition. This is why when toenail fungus occurs with skin problems on the feet, the condition is commonly called “athlete’s foot.”
Toenail fungus is a fungus infecting your nail bed and the nail plate. When it spreads, it leads to problems of the foot, and this is when it is called athlete’s foot.
Can It Spread
The quick answer to this question is yes. The long answer is, it’s important to understand what causes your toenail fungus and what treatments you respond best to.
This information will be an ounce of prevention of your toenail fungus spreading. It will spread if left untreated. And in some populations, such as the diabetes community, toenail fungus can lead to a serious health problem.
Treatment will help mitigate some of the contagious factors, and preventing future recurrences goes a long way as well.
In some at-risk populations, toenail fungus can lead to other problems such as foot ulcers or cellulitis, or more. So that is another way that it can spread.
Toenail Fungus Just Needs an Organism
Dr. Elewski for the University of Alabama describes toenail fungus patients as being hosts to an organism. Until that organism is gone, this is a living organism that can spread to other body parts.
In that sense, toe fungus is not contagious but is rather a living organism that grows. It will first spread to the other nails on your foot, and in rare cases, can spread to other body parts such as the groin, the hands, and the backs of the legs.
Dr. Elewski says that happens in approximately one out of every 12 cases.
But generally speaking, you can not transmit it from one person to another.
That is unless you are sharing shoes or socks with someone that has it.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
The actual fungus that causes toenail fungus and athlete’s foot is present in the world all over the place.
It likes dark and moist environments, like gyms, swimming pools, and locker rooms. Even spas carry it.
All it needs is a compromised host to grow. So if you have a hangnail or an ingrown toenail, you are setting the stage for some fungus to grow.
Learn tips like how to remove an ingrown toenail with dental floss and rid yourself of the potential of this problem to begin with.
But any cut on your foot near the nail bed can do the same thing. An injury can also lead to toenail fungus.
A foot injury from kicking a ball too hard or even wearing shoes that do not fit well can lead to toenail fungus. Shoes that pinch will lead your nail to separate from the bed, and this can lead to fungus.
Toenail fungus is more common in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems like people with diabetes. This is because as we age, our nail beds become a little more brittle.
When our nails crack, it creates an environment for fungus to grow. This fungus is available everywhere in our world, and it’s very easy to come into contact with it.
Daily Prevention Tips
Keeping your hands and feet moisturized regularly and also clean will help prevent toenail fungus. You also want to avoid sharing shoes or socks with someone who has had it.
Wearing shoes in public pools, hotels, gyms, and spas will also help in prevention.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
The reason we have nails and skin is to prevent infection of what lies below. So it is very easy to determine when one of these elements is sick, injured, or infected.
When we sustain an injury to either our skin and nails, we expose ourselves to the risk of any infection. Once our body is given the infection signal, it responds through the production of white blood cells.
This is why white pus or white area may occur around any infection you may have. Pus is also yellow in color on occasion.
So a yellowing or whitening of any area around your feet or toenails is going to be the first sign of a toenail fungus infection. You may also see similar spots on your fingernails if your fingernails have succumbed to a fungus.
Infected areas can also be black or green in color, looking bruised. Your actual nail may also begin to separate from its bed.
Other symptoms of toenail fungus include a thickening of the nail itself, making it harder to clip or trim. Your nails may be brittle or crumble when you try to clip them.
In some cases, you may notice a foul odor. But if you are asking, “can toenail fungus spread to other parts of the body” the answer is yes.
Left untreated, it can spread to the foot, hands, and even the groin.
How to Prevent
In most cases, it is impossible to prevent toenail fungus. If you sustain an injury to the nail bed, there’s just nothing you can do to prevent the fungus from reaching it.
But avoiding the little things that lead to toenail fungus can help you prevent future recurrences if it is a problem for you. Those with suppressed immune systems, the elderly, or diabetics are high-risk groups for additional problems if toenail fungus occurs.
These groups are at higher risk because their blood circulation is not average, and they have a greater risk of injury and infection from an injury.
They will want to take extra precautions when it comes to toenail fungus. But not every foot or nail injury will lead to it.
It is easy to maintain a few precautions to ensure you don’t get another occurrence or avoid getting it all together.
The fungus that causes toenail fungus is in our environment everywhere and typically likes moist, warm locations like spas, saunas, gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, and so much more.
Taking precautions with your feet at these locations is a good preventive measure. Always wear covered shoes, and don’t share shoes or socks with anyone.
Nail Salon Safety to Avoid Toenail Fungus
It’s also a good idea to have your own nail clippers and nail tools, such as one of the top 10 manicure sets for 2019. If you use nail salons regularly, don’t go if you have an injury to any of your nails.
At the same time, please don’t use a salon that isn’t licensed, and make sure they clean their tools after every single use.
Any crack or injury to the nail or nail bed invites the fungus in.
Try to keep your hands and feet dry at all times and your nails trimmed and clean.
Is It Safe to Leave Toenail Fungus Untreated?
Dr. Elewski of the University of Alabama says it is not a good idea to leave any toenail fungus untreated. This is the case for any population, and especially for high-risk populations.
When a toenail fungus goes untreated, it could lead to much bigger problems.
This is especially true for cases like people with diabetes.
A toenail fungus can create a crack in the skin that exposes the body to much bigger infections from bacteria or other causes. This kind of bacterial problem leads to amputations in diabetics, and a problem doctors see quite a lot.
Many people think they need to put on some fresh socks, and the problem will resolve itself on its own time. It could.
But it probably won’t.
How to Treat Toenail Fungus
The first step in treating toenail fungus is to ensure that it is taken care of. That could be anything from a hangnail to an ingrown toenail to just some cracks in the tips of your toes or fingers.
Moisturize regularly and treat with antibiotic cream after you have done any foot care.
But even if your ounces of prevention have done little to keep toenail fungus away, there are other treatments available. These are prescription medications or treatments, so you will need to see a doctor about the problem.
One form of prescription treatment is an oral antifungal medication, which works similarly to antibiotic medication. The most popular medication used to treat toenail fungus is called Terbinafine, also better known as Lamisil.
This medication is not always the preferred choice for many due to its side effects. They can range from an upset stomach. And in rare cases, liver problems. Talk to your doctor about everything you are taking when you are talking about Lamisil.
Some cases of toenail fungus can be treated with pulse dosing of Lamisil, where your doctor has you taking it once a week or even once monthly for preventive treatment.
Some prescription topical creams also work very well for toenail fungus, without the annoying side effects. These creams need to be used for a long period of time, often up to one year, to have their desired effect.
But if this is something you struggle with regularly, a regular cream may be a good idea.
Is Laser Treatment Right for You?
There are also some laser treatments for toenail fungus available. However, before choosing this method, ask your health care provider if the treatment they are suggesting has been FDA approved.
Some laser treatments have FDA approval for toenail fungus treatment, and some have not. Many laser treatments only offer temporary relief and are very costly treatments that are often not covered by insurance.