Nail fungus is a condition that causes brittleness, discoloration, and a high chance of cracking in either the toenails or fingernails. Nail fungus accounts for 50% of all nail abnormalities and infections and is more prevalent on toenails versus fingernails. But what causes such infections?
As the name of the infection implies, fungi are the leading cause of toenail fungus. Like bacteria, fungi are a part of the human ecosystem. A healthy amount of fungi in our bodies helps in certain biological functions such as digestion and excretion. However, if the fungus overgrows, this might cause problems like athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections, aside from what happens with our toenails.
There is a myriad of organisms that causes toenail fungus. The main cause of nail fungus is dermatophytes, which live in the skin, hair, and nails. They survive on keratin in the nails and hair and can eat through the nail, making it brittle and weak. Dermatophytes include:
Although the fungus can affect anyone, some circumstances make one more susceptible to getting the infection. If you fall into any of these categories, you might be a prime candidate for toenail fungus:
Old age comes with several disadvantages. The nails, for instance, grow slower, become more brittle, and are more likely to get infected.
The fungus survives in moist conditions. Wearing heavy shoes or ones that make your feet sweat will create the right conditions for fungus to thrive. Not taking care of your feet after a long day of being in such footwear increases your risk of attracting toenail fungus.
One of the symptoms of toenail fungus is its ability to remove the nail from the nailbed. A nail injury can do the same. Moreover, the separation also creates a moist atmosphere for fungus to grow.
Toenail fungus is detrimental to your nail growth and overall health. However, there are several easy remedies you can try, such as:
Although fungal conditions are treatable, they can recur if you don’t take proper care of yourself. Caring for your toenails and feet guarantees healthy nails and fewer chances of fungal or bacterial growth. Good hygiene practices such as daily showers, keeping toes clean, and regularly clipping nails can prevent most infections.
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