How To Know If Toenail Fungus is Dying

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Toenail fungus is one of the most difficult fungal infections to treat. Treatment is a long and painstakingly slow process that can take anywhere from 3 – 18 months, depending on the severity of the infection.

And because the process of treatment and healing from a toenail infection is so lengthy, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the treatment is actually working.

In this article we are going to take a closer look at toenail fungus, what causes it, some treatment options, and most importantly, how to know if toenail fungus is dying.

Once you’ve read this, you can tell if the course of treatment you’re on is actually working.


What Causes Toenail Fungus?

The most common cause of toenail infections is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. Molds and yeast (which are also types of fungi) can also cause nail infections. 

The human body normally has fungi present on the skin.

However, fungi thrive in moist, warm environments where they can overpopulate and that’s when an infection can develop.

A toenail fungal infection happens when that overabundance of fungi gets in between the toenail and the nail bed.


How To Know If Toenail Fungus is Dying

Whether you’re on prescription medication, an OTC antifungal, or have decided to try a home remedy, it will be a lengthy process. You will know that the treatment is working and the infection is clearing up when you see a new, healthy nail starting to grow from the nailbed.

You will know that the treatment is working and the infection is clearing up when you see a new, healthy nail starting to grow from the nailbed.

Toenails grow at an average rate of 1.62 mm per month. It will take several months to see new regrowth.

It’s super frustrating, we know.

The part of the nail that is infected with fungus will never go back to normal, regardless of the treatment. As your nail grows out, keep trimming off the part of the nail that was infected until all you are left with is a healthy nail.

On average, a whole toenail takes about 18 months to fully regrow.

The sooner toenail fungus gets treated, the less time it will take to heal and the more chance of success you will have getting rid of it.

Toenails grow at an average rate of 1.62 mm per month. It will take several months to see new regrowth.

If you find a treatment that is working for you, stick with it.

Giving up halfway through will cause the fungus to come back, spread, and take over your healthy regrowth and may make it even harder to treat.


How do you get toenail fungus?

Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. Toenail fungus can be caused by simply wearing socks and shoes, which insulate your toes. That keeps them nice and toasty but also creates that perfect environment for fungi to overpopulate.

But it’s not just toenail fungus that can develop in this way. Any part of your body that is warm and moist for extended periods of time can develop a topical fungal infection.

Jock itch (tinea cruris), athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), ringworm (tinea corporis), and toenail fungus (tinea unguium) all fall under the same classification of fungal infections.

This means that not only can they all develop from that warm, moist environment in which fungi flourish, but they are also highly contagious.

A fungal infection on one part of your body can spread to another.

For example, athlete’s foot can spread to your toenails and vice versa. Toenail fungus in one nail can also spread to other nails.

And that towel you used after showering to dry your feet that has athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, can be spread to other parts of your body that you’ve wiped with it.

Because fungal infections spread so easily, you can catch a fungal infection from other people. It’s unlikely you will catch toenail fungus directly from another person’s infected toenails.

But if you are not wearing rubber flip flops in the gym shower or you are sharing towels or wearing someone else’s shoes, and that person has a fungal infection, you can easily get it and it can spread to your toenails.

There is one place, however, that is responsible for nail-to-nail contraction of both toenail and fingernail fungus – the nail salon.

If the tools being used to give you your mani/pedi haven’t been properly sterilized, your nail technician could be passing on someone else’s nail fungus to your nails.


What are the stages of toenail fungus?

Toenail fungus usually starts as a white or yellow dot under the tip of the nail. As the infection progresses, the nail will thicken and the little spot will become larger and start to take over the nail.

The nail will become softer and have an almost powdery texture underneath and then start to crumble at the edges.


Why is it important to treat toenail fungus?

Apart from being unsightly and ruining your chances of becoming a foot model, it’s easy to understand why people often let it go untreated.

It seems more of a cosmetic issue than anything else.

It’s nothing that opaque nail polish or socks can’t hide. After all, it’s not like it’s life-threatening… or is it?

Though the appearance of little white spots on your toenails may not be classified as a medical emergency, if left without treatment, toenail fungus can lead to a whole host of other issues.

We’ve discussed how it can spread to other parts of your body and to other nails, but if left untreated, it can also deform the toenail, causing an ingrown nail.

Ingrown nails can be painful and result in a far more serious infection in the skin.

According to a 2012 study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, chronic toenail fungus was shown to significantly increase the risk of bacterial cellulitis of the leg.

Toenail fungus can be especially dangerous if you have diabetes. It can lead to foot ulcers and other foot problems.

Any internal infection, including cellulitis, and diabetic foot ulcers can be potentially life-threatening.


Toenail Fungus treatments

If your toenail fungus has been left untreated for a long time, your best chance of getting rid of it is to see your dermatologist or podiatrist.

The doctor will diagnose and probably take scrapings of the infected nail and have it tested to find out which fungus is causing the infection. With that, he or she can choose the most appropriate course of action, which could include topical and/or oral medication.

Your other options are home remedies or an over-the-counter antifungal. These two options are more likely to work if the toenail fungus is a newer infection, rather than something that’s been left untreated for years.

There are some simple home remedies you can try if the infection is caught early. These include the following:

It is important to note that there is nothing out there that is FDA approved as a toenail fungus treatment that does not require a prescription. Even OTC antifungals that market themselves as a nail fungus cure, all have disclaimers on their labels or package inserts that say “not for nail fungus”.

Because nail fungus is so hard to treat, OTC antifungals and home remedies are hit or miss. They work for some people, but not others.

Here are a few OTC antifungal treatments that are available that have received fairly good ratings: 

Just a word of caution when it comes to home remedies… use some common sense.

For example: there are people out there endorsing the use of bleach to treat toenail fungus.

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you should not be using a toxic cleaning agent to treat anything on or in your body!

Written by Kayla Young

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