Toenail fungus is the most common nail disease in adults. It has been estimated that as much as 90 percent of the adult population has nail fungus. How does a person get toenail fungus and how can it be treated? Learn all about it here.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Over half of all toenail fungus is caused by a fungus known as a dermatophyte.
Other types of fungus that can invade the toenails include the common yeast or candida and even certain types of mold. Toenails are the perfect place for fungus to grow, because the nails are most often in warm, moist and dark places, such as in a shoe or sock. Fungus doesn’t need light to survive and multiply. It feeds on the dead skin and nail that it lives in.
How is Toenail Fungus Contracted?
There’s a reason parents always tell their children to wear shower shoes when going in the camp bathrooms, dorm bathrooms or while walking around the community swimming pool. It’s because these are the places the organisms that cause nail fungus are most commonly found.
There are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of contracting toenail fungus, including:
- Aging – as a person ages, he or she has decreased circulation, particularly in the feet. This, along with the slower growing nails that occurs naturally as a person ages is the perfect recipe for nail fungus to enter the nail bed and thrive.
- People who are prone to sweating easily – this creates the moist environment for fungus to grow.
- Presence of another type of skin condition – people who have skin conditions like psoriasis or exzema can contract the fungus easily through one of the open areas on the skin.
- Wearing dress socks – socks and shoes that don’t allow your feet to breathe will make the feet damp, which is the environment these fungi love.
- Athlete’s foot – caused by a fungus, athelet”s foot creates open areas on the feet and toes, which makes it easy for nail fungus to enter.
- Certain medical conditions – illnesses that affect the circulation make a person more prone to developing nail fungus. People with diabetes and heart disease are particularly susceptible.
Getting Rid of Toenail Fungus
For the average adult it can take up to six months or more to get rid of toenail fungus. Mild to moderate cases of toenail fungus can be treated, with diligence, at home. Severe cases may need treated by a physician.
- Vinegar – Many people have successfully treated mild nail fungus with vinegar. The most common remedy is to soak the toenails in one part vinegar and two parts warm water eleven daily for 20 minutes.
- Tea tree oil -Tea tree oil has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine to cure many different ailments. To treat toenail fungus simply rub the oil on the affected nails and surrounding skin one or two times each day, making sure the nails and skin are completely dry first.
- Menthol – Rub a product that contains high concentrations of menthol on the affected toenails several times daily.
There are several other natural remedies as well as topical and oral antifungal medications that can be prescribed by a physician. Regardless of the remedy chosen, be prepared to commit to treatment for as little as six months and as many as a couple of years to completely cure toenail fungus for good.