Why toenail fungus, symptoms and treatment of onychomycosis

Fungal diseases of the toenails are quite common in humans. In addition to the unwanted cosmetic effect, these infections can cause significant damage to the body, so onychomycosis must be treated. But for that, you need to know as much as possible about this disease, especially since today, scientists have identified a large number of types of pathogens.

Types of pathogens

In onychomycosis, the parasites begin in the structure of the nail tissue and the skin around them. According to the generally accepted classification, controversial microorganisms that can manifest in humans are divided into three groups:

  • nail fungus, primarily Candida albicans;
  • dermatophyte fungi (genera Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton);
  • mold species (genera Aspergillus, Alternaria and Fusarium).

Acute or chronic onychomycosis causes each of them separately. It is also not uncommon for two or, less commonly, three of these types to become infected at the same time. When making a diagnosis, it is extremely important to pinpoint the cause, because each of the groups of fungal diseases can be treated with different drugs that are not universal.

itchy feet with nail fungus

Reasons for occurrence

The reasons for the development of infection can be related both to the entry of pathogens from the external environment and to the general condition of the patient's body. Their knowledge will help you understand how to treat nail fungus.

External sources of fungal spread include:

  1. Swimming pools, locker rooms, showers, baths - those public places where a person walks barefoot. Therefore, when visiting such institutions, slippers should be worn for safety.
  2. The use of poorly disinfected tools in beauty salons during pedicures, which can generally be dangerous for the body.
  3. No less dangerous are other people's files, scissors and other products used for personal hygiene.
  4. In summer, closed shoes in which the feet will sweat a lot can be dangerous.
  5. In order not to treat onychomycosis of the nail, you should bathe or shower regularly, because sweat and dirt act as a favorable environment for germs.
  6. Some types of onychomycosis are transmitted from pets, but such pathogens are common mainly in warm countries.

Other health problems also contribute to the development of the described disease:

  1. Weakened immune system.
  2. Presence of small wounds and cracks on the skin, dry tissues.
  3. A large number of irregularities.
  4. Violation of blood circulation in nail tissues.
  5. Contact with fungal pathogens from human skin. This method of infection is called autoinfection.

So, there are many sources of fungal infections. These microorganisms are very common all over the world, so nail fungus-like disease occurs in many people. So, knowledge about how to treat onychomycosis will never be superfluous.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The appearance of fungus on the feet does not mean the inevitable development of the disease. Onychomycosis develops only in people with a weakened immune system. But there are many options for how nail fungus manifests itself. In this case, pay attention to the following symptoms of nail fungus:

  • compaction or reduction of stratum corneum thickness;
  • high fragility of the nail plate, its stratification;
  • the presence of bumps and blisters;
  • unnatural color: white, yellowish or greenish shades;
  • roughness of the nail plate surface;
  • loss of natural luster;
  • inflammation of the skin of the toes, itching in the feet;
  • cracked foot.
yellow toenail with fungus

By these signs, you can find out how toenail fungus develops.

Treating advanced toenail fungus is extremely difficult and time consuming. Therefore, the onset of onychomycosis symptoms cannot be ignored. If found, seek medical attention immediately.

The main goal of diagnosing nail fungus is to accurately determine the cause of the infection. Many types of parasitic organisms are extremely difficult to detect, especially because the external signs of the disease are easily confused with metabolic disorders.

Usually onychomycosis is diagnosed in several stages, for which the following methods are used to identify toenail fungus:

  • study of clinical data;
  • analysis of pieces of tissue under a microscope;
  • cultural diagnostics;
  • DNA research.

When examining a patient at the first appointment, the doctor can diagnose the presence of nail plate damage, however, without conducting accurate studies, it is not possible to understand what caused the disease. Laboratory research is the only way to identify nail fungus.

By examining the scraping under a microscope, the doctor can tell you exactly what the toenail fungus looks like. The difficulty is in determining the specific type of pathogen. Therefore, at this stage, the diagnosis does not stop.

The exact culture of the fungus was determined by its cultivation in the laboratory. To achieve this, nail fungus analysis based on the special nutrient medium Sabouraud is used. Usually, after three to five days of such a study, experts can determine the specific type of pathogen. Also, with this method, you can check the sensitivity of the parasite to drugs and determine the most effective course of treatment.

laboratory diagnosis of toenail fungus

DNA testing for parasites is the current and most promising option for identifying toenail fungus, reducing the time required to obtain results to one or two days. However, such an analysis of nail fungus can effectively detect only the type of yeast.

Who is in danger

As already mentioned, certain categories of people are prone to onychomycosis to varying degrees. The following are the main factors that increase the likelihood of infection:

  1. Reaching retirement age. Due to reduced circulation and worsening metabolism, this disease is much more common in the elderly than in other categories of the population. Late diagnosis also plays an important role in this, because retirees, after discovering the symptoms of nail fungus and considering them a common sign of aging, do not always seek qualified help.
  2. Mechanical damage to nail tissue. Any injury makes it difficult to supply the tissues with nutrients. As a result, the focus of the infection will start at the place of the fracture or crack, which then spreads along the nail, which can even easily fly out of it.
  3. High blood sugar causes damage to blood vessels in the foot. That is why the manifestation of onychomycosis is so common in diabetics, from which they are extremely difficult to get rid of.
  4. For exactly the same reason, diseases of the circulatory system, such as Raynaud's syndrome or varicose veins, can cause infection.
  5. Since spores can most often multiply on both nail tissues and the surface of the body, people affected by fungal skin infections are at risk for onychomycosis. Once defeated, the disease can recur.
toenail fungus

Danger of ignoring symptoms

Many people do not seek medical help if they detect signs of a fungal infection, and only after some time try to cure the advanced fungus. This is due to the relatively mild course of the disease and the possibility of concealing cosmetic imperfections with socks or closed shoes.

However, you should not neglect the first symptoms and treatment of the disease, otherwise serious complications can occur.

If you are wondering why toenail fungus is dangerous, then you should start with the fact that onychomycosis is contagious. An infected person poses a threat to others.

Certain restrictions have been introduced for patients with fungal infections. A person with an old fungus, for example, will never get a medical certificate of entry into the pool.

Because it is a parasitic disease, toenail fungus will weaken the patient's immunity, increasing the likelihood of other health problems. Trying to cure nail fungus at home can turn into more serious problems.

Old onychomycosis leads to serious consequences to be feared:

  • parasites can enter the circulatory system;
  • lack of treatment of toenail fungus severely weakens the immune system;
  • spores increase allergic reactions, exacerbate chronic diseases;
  • due to the worsening of the general health condition, people are more prone to depression, insomnia, etc.
nail peeling with running fungus

Therefore, the first signs of nail fungus should be a reason to contact the clinic.


The treatment of toenail fungus is based on two principles. First, drugs mechanically destroy spores. Second, drugs slow down the reactions of parasites, blocking their activity and reproduction. By the way, you should think carefully before you decide to treat nail fungus during pregnancy.

Medicines, folk remedies, laser treatment of nail fungus and medical pedicure are used in medicine.

Pharmaceutical preparations

Pharmaceutical products have a strong impact. Many of them are specially selected for specific pathogens, which further improves the effectiveness of nail fungus treatment in children and adults. Of all the ways to quickly cure nail fungus, remedies are the best.

To enhance the effect, a diet against nail fungus can help. It is prescribed by the attending physician.

Folk remedies

Often, the independent fight against parasites does not lead to success, because fungi tend to restore the structure of the spores. Therefore, it is most advisable to seek medical help if the first signs of the disease are detected. Only a doctor can reliably suggest how to quickly get rid of nail fungus.

There are many folk options for how to cure toenail fungus. For example, essential oils that serve as a natural antiseptic help. The main way to treat onychomycosis of the nails at home is to apply a drop of the substance on the affected area, which is then glued with a plaster.

oils for toenail fungus

Vinegar also fights well against toenail fungus, lemon juice, mouthwash. It is not uncommon to treat toenail fungus at home with iodine or garlic. Which of these medications is better to use will be recommended by the attending physician.

An effective method at home to get rid of nail fungus is a vodka-based mixture. To make it, you need to mix 200 ml of alcohol, a teaspoon of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of potassium permanganate. 50 ml of boiled water is added to the composition, and then it should be put in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. With the obtained medicine it is necessary to wipe the affected areas twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime, until the infection is completely destroyed. Such help has a restorative effect, although the restoration of damaged tissues will take some time.

All these ingredients are included in the main list of what nail fungus is afraid of. A dermatologist or mycologist will tell you how to get rid of the fungus the fastest.

Laser treatment

Recently, laser technology has been added to the main ways of dealing with toenail fungus. The principle of laser treatment of nail fungus is the thermal effect of air on parasites. It creates a temperature of about 50 degrees, by the way, this is the answer to the question: at what temperature the fungus dies. At the same time, the treatment of fungal diseases with short-term radiation has no effect on the human body.

Complex laser treatment usually consists of four sessions, with an interval of one week. Competent experts of medical centers that provide this type of service know how to properly treat advanced toenail fungus with radiation. After laser therapy, about 85% of patients were finally cured. This is one of the most effective ways to fight nail fungus.

Medical pedicure

You can apply a medical pedicure for nail fungus in the early stages of the disease, this is the main disadvantage of this method, in addition, the treatment of onychomycosis with varnish is quite long. Therapeutic pedicure for nail fungus includes the use of special formulations that are applied to the damaged area. This service is provided by many beauty salons. However, you can treat nail fungus at home with the help of medical varnish.

By the way, an expert can know how to restore the nail after the fungus.


There are many ways to prevent fungal nail diseases:

  1. The most important thing is daily hygiene.
  2. Slippers should be worn in public places, swimming pools, saunas, locker rooms.
  3. Do not wear closed shoes in hot weather.
  4. To avoid fungal infections, do not use other people's personal hygiene products: nail files, scissors, towels and so on.

It is very important to ensure that the child clearly follows these rules.

There are different types of fungal infections of the nails on the feet. Treatment of onychomycosis requires a serious diagnosis, long-term therapy and may require a certain amount of money. Therefore, it is desirable to adhere to preventive measures and prevent infection by parasites. It will also not be superfluous to know how to beat the fungus.