Onychomycosis is the official word for toenail fungus. Even while it could appear to be a small cosmetic issue, if addressed, it can have detrimental effects on one’s health. Podiatrist Dr. Peter Joseph of Allegheny Health Network cautions against ignoring an infected toenail due to potential consequences.
Foot pain is one possible problem. As the fungus spreads, walking becomes painful and challenging, especially when wearing shoes. The contaminated nail thickens and develops a deformity.
Athlete’s foot, which is characterized by red, itchy, and damaged skin, can be caused by untreated toenail fungus. This is a result of the fungus’s ability to spread to nearby skin. The warm, wet climate of shoes makes them the perfect place for the fungus to grow and spread.
Since a broad infection carries a major risk, particularly for people with compromised immune systems like those with diabetes, it is even more worrisome. The fungus has the ability to pierce the skin and create cracks, which can result in cellulitis—a potentially fatal bacterial skin illness. If the infection is severe enough, it may enter the bloodstream and become fatal.
Onycholysis, a disorder in which the nail separates off the nail bed, can also be brought on by fungal infections of the toenails. In some circumstances, it can be necessary to chop off the damaged nail. In some cases, a nail avulsion or matrix ectomy—which eliminates the nail’s developing core at the base—might be necessary if conventional therapies don’t work.
Dr. Joseph suggests visiting a physician if there is any indication of an infection since he is aware of the significance of receiving medical attention for fungal infections of the toenails. To determine whether the fungus is present, a small sample of the toenail can be analyzed. Oral or topical antifungal drugs are treatment choices for a diagnosed sickness; these drugs are typically well tolerated and have few adverse effects.
Some doctors may choose to watch the infected nail over time and wait it out in small cases that don’t cause discomfort. The fungus might not spread further, even though it is unlikely to disappear on its own. To treat cosmetic problems, a little amount of medication may be recommended in some circumstances.
The most crucial lesson to learn from this is the importance of treating toenail fungus. It is possible to avoid complications, reduce discomfort, and preserve healthy feet with early diagnosis and effective treatment. Therefore, don’t be hesitant to seek professional help from a healthcare provider if you believe you may have a fungal infection in your toenail.