Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail. This infection has a distinctive change to the toenail’s quality and color over a few months’ time. Typically, the nail plate will become thickened with a yellow or cloudy appearance. The nail may also become rough, crumbly or may separate from the nail bed.
The fungal infection does not really affect the nail but attacks the surface underneath the nail. Once the fungi get past the body’s immune system the nail often becomes darker in color and foul smelling. Waste from the fungus and immune system may collect beneath the nail plate. This causes the nail to thicken. The infection can spread to other toenails, the skin (often showing up as dryness on the bottom of the foot), or even the fingernails. If ignored, the infection will continue to cause thickening of the nails making them difficult to trim and can make walking painful when wearing shoes. Onychomycosis can also lead to a bacteria or yeast infection.
Toenails are especially vulnerable to picking up fungus around damp areas where people are likely to be walking barefoot. This includes swimming pools, locker rooms and showers. An injury to the nail bed may make it susceptible to all types of infection, especially fungal. Those suffering from diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions are at an increased risk for infection. Many over the counter medications are available to treat onychomycosis. However, almost all are ineffective at slowing or stopping the fungus. Your podiatrist can offer the best treatment by prescribing an oral medication or using a nail restoration system.