Fungal Toe Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

In the minds of many, fungus patients are often associated with clutter, sloppiness and dirt. This stereotype is not entirely true. In the modern world, even the most pedantic cleaning is not immune to fungal infections. Also, a person who leads an active, healthy lifestyle is more at risk of catching it than a classic television junkie. If the skin between your fingers turns red, peels and cracks, your nails turn yellow and crumbling, and the excruciating itching doesn't go away for a minute, you likely have a fungus.

Infection routes

Medical statistics say that every 4-5th person on our planet is sick with ringworm of the toes. The risk of infection exists everywhere: in the swimming pool, sauna, gym, public bath, shoe store, on the beach and even the shoes themselves often make an excellent environment for the life and active reproduction of the fungus.

fungus between the toes

Going barefoot, wearing someone else's or wet shoes, sharing personal hygiene items (towels, manicure and pedicure utensils), dirty socks, excessive sweating, degenerative foot diseases, overweight, circulatory disorders - these and other factors lead directly or indirectly infection with fungal infection.

Healthy nails are practically invulnerable to fungus, while nail blades, altered under the influence of some traumatic factor, are easy prey for it. It's the same with the skin - microscopic cracks become a gateway to infections.

Most of the time, the infection is caused by fungal parasites called dermatophytes, less often by yeasts and molds. Toe fungi in men and women are equally sick. The risk of infection increases with age. Thus, children become victims of this parasite relatively rarely, while every second adult after 70 years is its active carrier.

The first manifestations of toe fungus

toe fungus

In most cases, foot injury with fungal infection occurs gradually according to the following pattern:

  • the first signs in the form of peeling skin, burning and itching are seen between the toes;
  • the skin reacts to the infection with the formation of blisters, after a while they crack;
  • cracks and furrows appear in place of blisters; the itching intensifies;
  • climbing the nails, the fungus actively multiplies, gradually penetrates the nail plate, destroying it slowly and for a long time;
  • the dish thickens, exfoliates, crumbles, takes on an unnatural yellow.

Dermatophytic fungi appear as bright yellow spots or streaks near the edges of the nail. Over time, the infection moves to its core, the skin in the interdigital region cracks and an intense itching is felt. Yeast fungi feed on the nail plate, diluting it along the sides. As a result, waves, furrows, cracks appear, the nail turns yellow and separates from its bed. First, the yeast attacks the nail folds. They turn red, thicken and swell, silvery scales appear along the edges. It is possible to attach a secondary bacterial infection with subsequent suppuration. Molds superficially affect the nails, changing their hue from yellow and green to brown and even black. These fungi are especially active in conditions of impaired nutrition of the nail plates.

Why don't you hesitate to visit a doctor?

Treatment should be started as soon as possible. This should be done before the infection, which is usually located first between the toes, spreads to the nail plate. Seeking early medical attention ensures faster healing and healthier nails.

fungus on my toes

A mycologist is dedicated to the treatment of various fungal skin lesions (mycoses). Doctors with this profile are hard to find in state clinics. In his absence, you can consult a dermatologist. The specialist's task is to assess the degree and depth of the lesion, make a tissue scraping to determine the presence and type of fungus, and outline a competent therapeutic regimen.

Before starting the treatment, it is necessary to carry out disinfection actions, which include treating all shoes with vinegar or formalin solution. The bad smell of these products makes their use inconvenient. To solve the problem, you can purchase a special device at the pharmacy that disinfects shoes with ultraviolet rays.

Traditional treatment for toe fungus

Toe fungus can be treated with local, systemic or combined therapy.

footbath for toe fungus

Any treatment involves the use of antimycotics (antifungal agents):

  1. Local treatment (ointments, creams, sprays). Antimycotics for external use and other drugs with the active ingredient clotrimazole, naftifine hydrochloride, ketoconazole, terbinafine hydrochloride or bifonazole. In case of minor damage to the nail plate, the use of antifungal varnishes is recommended. Varnishes are applied throughout the year, gradually reducing the frequency of use (from 4 to 1 times a week). Local remedies effectively relieve itching and burning, reduce flaking and cracking of the skin between the toes, but are not able to completely cure the condition.
  2. Systemic therapy: general antimycotics. This treatment is appropriate in case of complete damage to the nail plate. But there are certain contraindications to systemic antifungals: they cannot be taken by pregnant and lactating women, people suffering from kidney and liver disease, and young children.
  3. Comprehensive treatment. Includes local and systemic therapy.

Patients often complain about the lack of effectiveness of traditional therapy and resort to treatment with folk remedies. Against the background of such complaints, the opinion was formed that foot fungus is an incurable disease, it is only possible to temporarily remove its symptomatic manifestations (itching, desquamation, fissures). Why is patient dissatisfaction observed? Everything is very simple. In fact, completely curing a fungus is difficult but possible. The main thing is to respect the principles of regularity and duration. It's very important to do all the therapeutic activities every day and not interrupt what you started in between. You need to be ready for long-term treatment (usually 3 to 12 months), which makes sense until such time as healthy new nails grow back. In advanced cases, it is necessary to remove the affected nail plates and only then wait for new ones to appear.

Treatment of Toe Fungus with Folk Remedies

Traditional medicine prescriptions are very effective in eliminating or reducing the severity of fungal manifestations such as itching, burning, cracking, scaling and reddening of the skin between the toes. Some patients claim that they were able to completely cure the disease using folk remedies exclusively.

foot care to prevent fungus

So to deal with the fungus:

  • Soak your feet in apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar or table vinegar.
  • apply 1 drop of iodine to each nail twice a day;
  • clean skin and nails with salicylic ointment;
  • wash your feet with washing powder;
  • make garlic and butter compresses;
  • lubricate the affected skin with a mixture of garlic juice, alcohol (1 tablespoon each) and water (2 tablespoons);
  • treat affected areas with propolis alcohol tincture.

According to evaluations, garlic and propolis are especially effective in combating fungi. It is important to understand that the duration of treatment with folk remedies has limits. If within 3 months the skin cracks and doesn't look the same, it makes sense to seek help from traditional medicine.

Despite the good effectiveness of treatment with folk remedies and the success of modern medicines in inventing new effective medicines, ringworm of the feet today remains the most common fungal disease. However, it is gratifying that, over the past 20-30 years, the number of patients who have been successfully cured has decreased each year.