Blackened Toenail Fungus – Causes, Prevention and Treatment

The majority or all of us were born with white toenails. However, you may notice some discolouration of your toenails. Discoloration is caused by a number of factors including nail polish and toenail trauma. In some cases, it could be a sign of blackened toenail fungus.

As the name suggests, blackened toenail fungus has something to do with the darkening of your toenails. The medical term for this condition is onychomycosis. The condition starts slowly underneath your toenail. It begins as a small spot that is either white or yellow in color. These are the early warning signs although they don’t mean much at the beginning.

Keep in mind that the condition is caused by a fungus. In time, the fungus will begin to go deep into the toenail. This has several effects including:

  • Discoloration (whitish or yellow)of your toenail
  • Thickening and crumbling of your toenail edges
  • Foul odor
  • Irregular shape of your nails

In some cases, the fungus affects multiple toenails.

Although the condition is unpleasant, it does not mean that you have to start panicking. It is not really a very serious condition, but toenail can become blue in blue toe syndrome and it is a serious condition.

If you feel that you have nothing to worry about and the condition will subside soon, there is no need for you to get any treatment. If your nails have reached the point of thickening and causing you some pain, it may be time to seek treatment.

Initially, start with self-medication and monitor your progress. Home treatment might be all you need to fight the condition.

One major drawback is that even if you manage to treat the condition, there is a higher chance of it returning again. Even if that happens, the treatment plan mentioned above should be enough to make it go away again.

Do not throw caution to the wind

Just like many medical conditions, if you do not treat it effectively and in time, it will start to spread and affect other organs. It can affect your fingernails although this is not frequent. Your toenails may be permanently damaged but this does not happen frequently.

You may end up being infected with tinea pedis (or athlete’s foot, as it is popularly known) if the fungus affects the area between your toes and feet.

In the worst case scenario, you may affect those close to you including your family and friends. The condition is contagious.

Try to treat it in time. The longer you don’t act, the more painful it will be. Always remember that a stitch in time saves nine.

Causes of Toenail Fungus

There is no single cause for the condition. A number of things are responsible for causing the condition and some of them are listed below:

  • Fungi – several types of fungus are the main culprits for causing the condition. Dermatophyte, a type of fungi, is responsible for causing the majority of toenail fungus condition. Other types of fungi that contribute to the condition are mold and yeast.
  • Medical condition – an underlying medical condition such as type 2 diabetes, anemia, kidney or heart disease is a likely cause for the condition.
  • Walking barefoot – although walking barefoot may sound like an appealing exercise that will bring you closer to nature, it will also increase your chances of being infected with a fungus that cause the condition.
  • Skin cancer – melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is responsible for causing the condition. You can pick this type of cancer by observing a dark brown spot under your nail beds.
  • Aging nails – as you grow older, your nails inevitably become dry and brittle. This cracks the nails providing a safe passage for fungi to find a home in your nails.
  • Low blood circulation – we all know that proper blood circulation is important to keep us healthy. Low blood circulation has several negative effects including causing toenail fungus.
  • Passed on to you from another person – since the condition is contagious, there are chances that you someone else may pass it to you.
  • Warm and moist conditions – fungi thrive in conditions that are dark, moist, and warm. If your feet regularly maintain these kinds of conditions, then you are creating a breeding ground for the fungi that will cause the condition.
  • Wearing socks for a long time – wearing your socks all day long will create conditions ideal for fungi to breed.
  • Toenail trauma – a trauma on your toenail (such as hitting a rock) can cause the bleeding of your vessels. The bleeding will decolorize your nails.
  • Athlete’s foot – if you suffer from athlete’s foot, treat as soon as possible before it affects other areas and results in blackened toenail infection.
  • Weak immune system – if you have a weak immune system, you will be susceptible to many opportune diseases and conditions including blackened toenail fungus.
  • Sweating constantly – this allows the fungi to breed and cause the condition.
  • Inflammation

When to See a Doctor for Toenail Fungus?

When you first notice that you have the condition, you may try to write it off and assume that it will go away on its own. After some time, you may decide to self-treat it until you realize that it’s not working. You do not have to wonder when you should visit your doctor. You must see your doctor when:

  • You don’t know the initial cause of the condition – if you are not sure what caused the condition, it may be wise to visit your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of an underlying medical problem. The underlying problem could be a serious problem such as heart disease or diabetes.
  • Increased pain – you should visit your primary care doctor if the pain continues relentlessly without any signs of slowing down
  • You see pus being discharged
  • Have fever without any real cause
  • You feel uncomfortable with your abnormally shaped and irregular toenail
  • The infection starts to spread from the point of origin to other areas

Although it may be possible for you to see a general doctor, you are advised to see any of the following specialist doctors:

  • Dermatologist
  • Physician assistant
  • Internal medicine doctor
  • Podiatrist
  • Family medicine doctors

What questions to ask the doctor?

Remember that you have not committed a crime when you visit a doctor. It is not an interview either, so you have the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. You need to ask as many questions as possible so that you have a clear view of what is happening in your life.

Your health should be your number one priority because it is what keeps you breathing. Some of the questions you can ask your doctor include:

  • What was the initial cause of the condition?
  • How best you can treat it?
  • Are there any habits you need to change to avoid re-infection
  • Will it affect the people you live with?
  • Is it a sign of any serious underlying medical condition?

 Prevention of Toenail Fungus

At some point in your life, you may have heard that prevention is better than cure. This is still true, especially when it concerns your health. You can prevent the condition by observing the following protocol:

  • Do not walk barefoot – always wear shoes when you want to travel.
  • Encourage people with the condition to get treated – if you know a person who has the condition, advice that person to seek medical attention before the contagious condition is passed to you.
  • Quit nail polish – stop going for nail polish and artificial treatments
  • Do not wear your for a long time without removing them. Give your feet some time to ‘breathe’. If you have to wear your socks for a long time, you should have the wet-absorbing ones.
  • Buy shoes made of light material that allows your feet to breathe.
  • High hygiene standards – you must constantly and consistently wash your hands and feet to prevent fungus from breeding.
  • Do not keep old shoes for a long time. If you feel that you still need them, use disinfectants or antifungal powders.
  • You must only visit nail salons that sterilize its manicuring tools and uses a different tool for each customer.
  • Always trim your nails and using a clean nail clipper. After using the clipper, disinfect it properly.

Home Remedies for Blackened Toenail Fungus

There are several home remedies you can use to treat toenail fungus. Although each of them is used differently, the main outcome is to make sure that you treat the condition in time and before you can pass it on to other people.

When you go to buy these remedies, feel free to ask any question without feeling embarrassed. When it comes to your health, take charge and ownership of it. Here are a few examples of home remedies you can use to treat the condition:

  • Garlic – garlic contains several compounds such ajoene and allicin. These compounds give it its anti-fungal properties that enable it to fight off blackened toenail fungus. Crush garlic or have crushed garlic ready. Take the crushed garlic (or garlic oil if you prefer) and mix it with white vinegar.

Carefully apply the mixture around the areas infected by the fungi. Use a clean bandage to cover the area you have applied the home remedy. Do not remove the bandage until after a few hours. Do this daily without any stoppage until the condition has improved.

Garlic’s other uses include:

  • Treatment of hair losses
  • Fights acne
  • Prevention and treatment of colds
  • Soothing of psoriasis
  • Treatment of athlete’s foot
  • Driving away from mosquitoes
  • Sidewalk de-icing
  • Baking soda – do not just use your baking soda for baking. It can eliminate the extra moisture on the toes and help you to minimize the smell of the foot odor. Mix the baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply your paste to the toenail. Leave for ten minutes. You can then rinse off afterwards.

You can also create a remedy by pouring your baking soda into a bucket full of water, then soak your feet in the mixture.

  • Cornmeal – this is a cure with a twist. The cure uses a fungus to kill the toenail fungus. Fortunately, the fungus from the cure has harmful effects on your body. Mix cornmeal with water in a big bucket. The ratio should be two quarts of water to one cup of cornmeal.

Leave the cornmeal and the water to mix for an hour. After that, you can soak your feet for half thirty minutes to one hour.

  • White vinegar – vinegar is a weak acid that neutralizes the pH of your skin by killing the toenail fungus. White vinegar also a crucial role in making sure that the toenail fungus does not spread to other areas of your skin. Mix water and vinegar in a ratio of 1:1. Soak your feet in the mixture for thirty minutes. Do this every day until the condition disappears. You should make sure that your feet dry thoroughly after soaking it in the mixture.

Conclusion

Blackened toenail fungus is a mild condition that is mainly caused by fungi. It can also be caused by other factors such as a pre-existing medical condition. You will know that you have been affected by seeing decolorized toenails.

The effects of the condition vary. In some people, it may cause them to lose confidence in themselves or to be self-conscious when in public. This reduces their ability to socialize and be happy around other people.

People who have the condition are not required to seek medical treatment immediately as if a fairly easy to treat the condition. Sometimes, it goes away on its own. However, a person who has it should be careful not to pass it on to others as it contagious.

A patient is free to try some of the several homes and natural remedies that can treat the condition without much effort.

If home remedies do not efficiently, the patient may need to visit a doctor. The condition has a tendency of coming back even after it has been treated.

The condition is more common in adults than in children. This is due to the ageing of the nails that make them an ideal place for fungi to breed.

Dr. Sachin
 

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