The Importance of Toenail Health: Treating Toenail Fungus

Published: 2011-07-20 10:21:38
Author: Lynn Haven

  The main function of our toenails is to protect blood vessels, nerves, and bones underneath, which is why healthy toenails are essential to foot health in general. If one of your toenails is growing up rather than out or turning a different color you may be suffering from the most common toenail complaint: Onychomycosis. 2%- 18% of Americans suffer from Onychomycosis , which is a fungal infection of the nail plate. Left untreated, some fungal nails can grow thick enough to cause pain. (A fungus is a microscopic organism that grows best in warm, dark, moist environments, like socks and shoes. It eats away at the layers of the skin and nails.) 

Many treatment options are available, but none can guarantee back your healthy nails, which are clear where they are not adhered to skin and pink where they are adhered to skin  Toenails grow from underneath the cubicle in an area called the matrix, which lies underneath the cuticle. Any disturbance to the matrix causes nails to grow abnormally; rather than being smooth and flat, they can grow upward with lines, pits, and grooves—even becoming discolored. 

Fungal nails, or onychomycosis, are not only unattractive but they can be painful, too. In The Agony of De-Feet: A Podiatrist's Guide to Footcare, and Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts in the Foot, Panama City, Florida podiatrist Dr. Burton S. Schuler details how important foot health is for our overall physical well-being. He describes how Athlete's foot (a fungal skin infection) or medical conditions such as diabetes, poor blood flow, or decreased immunity can cause a fungal infection in the nails 

Fungal infections usually begin in a single toenail and progress to adjacent nails. The nail, or just a portion of it, will have yellow, white, or brownish discoloration with a thickened nail plate and crumbly debris beneath. Increased nail thickness cause increased pressure on the toes while wearing shoes or when walking. The infected nail may separate from the underlying skin of the nail bed, or pinch into the skin surrounding the nail, which can lead to secondary bacterial infection. Fungal nails are often very difficult to trim and require the assistance of a foot and ankle specialist. 

Clearing nail fungus takes time. First, a podiatrist should properly diagnose a fungal infection. Treatment of nail fungus consists of trimming difficult to cut nails, grinding down nail thickness, removing the entire nail, and/or use of antifungal medications