What Causes Toenail Fungus?

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What Causes Toenail Fungus?

Fungal infections can affect any area of the body, including the toenails. Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus takes over the nails and causes discoloration and a brittle texture.

But what causes fungus in the first place? Different forms of fungus affect the nails, and you can pick up a fungus up in various ways.

Knowing the risk factors and causes of toenail fungus helps you avoid the problem. If you're dealing with toenail symptoms, the team at the Manhattan Podiatry Group evaluates you to determine if fungus is the culprit.

Dr. Mark Sharobeem is our in-house podiatrist, specializing in foot and ankle disorders, including bothersome toenail fungus.

Understanding toenail fungus

Toenail fungus is a type of infection in the toenails. It happens when a fungus gets under the nail and settles between the skin and the nail.

The most common way to get toenail fungus is through an open area in the skin around the toenail. Fungi creep into the cut and make a home, causing a widespread infection of the nails.

Toenail fungus rarely affects other areas of the body or fingernails, but it's highly contagious. You can pass certain types of fungus to someone else through direct contact with the nail or by walking barefoot on infected surfaces.

What type of fungus causes the problem?

Tinea unguium is a mold responsible for about 90% of toenail fungi infections. Tinea unguium is a dermatophyte that requires keratin to grow and live. Keratin makes up a large portion of the toenails, making them the perfect place for tinea unguium to live and multiply.

You can pick up a dermatophyte from walking around a pool, public shower, or locker room barefoot with an open area around the nail.

Tinea unguium is the most common of many forms of fungi that affect the toenails.

Who gets toenail fungus?

Just about anyone can get toenail fungus, although some people are more at risk than others. Those over the age of 60 are more likely to have toenail fungus. Others at risk have the following problems:

  • Athlete's foot
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Nail injury
  • Poor circulation to the feet
  • Psoriasis

You may also be at risk for toenail fungus if you have a weak immune system or are living with an autoimmune disorder.

Signs of toenail fungus

When you have a fungal infection of the nails, the fungus slowly changes their appearance. Some of the common signs and symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you're probably dealing with a fungal infection. Dr. Sharobeem evaluates the toenails to determine the best method of treatment.

He may recommend oral or topical treatments to eliminate the fungal infection. In most cases, these are enough, but if the condition continues, he recommends fungal laser treatment.

Call Manhattan Podiatry Group today to make an appointment with Dr. Sharobeem so you can alleviate your toenail fungus symptoms immediately. You may also request a consultation using our convenient online booking tool.