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What’s Wrong With Your Toe?

What’s Wrong With Your Toe?

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infected toe

Infected toes can be a major source of embarrassment.

Finger and toe infections are common in humans throughout their lifetime. While most are not serious and can easily be treated, they can be nagging problems that can cause some pain or embarrassment. Here are a few of the more common types of infections, as well as a few more rare toe issues that you’ll want to keep an eye out for:

Candida onychomycosis

Not a common source of toe wound infection; candida is a type of fungal disease in the toenails and/or fingernails. The fungus causes the nails to weaken, prompting the layers of nail to separate from the bed of the nail. As the separation occurs, the fungus will dig further into the nail bed, causing the nail to turn hues that can range from green to white to brown. The separation of the nail may also give the nail an odd shape.

One telltale sign of this type of infection in the nail is that it will often be painful – most other nail infections do not cause discomfort; they are largely just unattractive to look at.

Causes: As its name suggests, candida onychomycosis is a yeast infection of the toenail. Many candida infections start as paronychial infections in the skin and tissues surrounding the nail, then spread to the bed itself.

Treatment: Since yeasts are part of the fungal kingdom, most antifungal prescriptions will treat this type of infected toe. Some clinicians also recommend increasing your intake of probiotics to better balance the yeast levels in your body.

Distal subungual onychomycosis

The most common of toenail infections – according to American Family Physician, about one half of nail infections are distal subungual onychomycosis infections. Although this nail disease often is painless, changes to the nail bed may prompt individuals to change the way they walk or step.

Causes: The fungus is the same culprit as athlete’s foot, and can easily be spread through locker rooms, public shower facilities or prolonged exposure to sweaty/humid conditions.

Treatment: Due to its commonality, distal subungual foot infections are often treated with antifungal topical ointment or creams. A variety of options of various strengths have been developed, and so even severe cases can often be treated with this method. Oral antifungal medications are also an option.

White superficial onychomycosis

This type of nail infection’s visual cues is all in the name. While the symptoms of this infection may start as just a few small white spots, as this fungal infection spreads, the toenail will often get covered in a thick white, chalky coating.

Causes: The infection is caused by fungi such as the Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Acremonium strictum. This type of nail infection is most common in young children as well as adults who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Treatment: Patients who want to remove the infection often undergo debridement of some variety, if strong antifungal topical options are not effective.


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