Onychomycosis, the official term for toenail fungus, may appear to be a small aesthetic issue, but if left untreated, it can have major health effects. A podiatrist at Allegheny Health Network, Dr. Peter Joseph, cautions that ignoring an infected toenail could result in a number of consequences.
Foot discomfort is one concern that could arise. The thickening and misshapening of the infected nail as the fungus spreads makes walking uncomfortable and challenging, especially while wearing shoes.
Athlete’s foot, which is distinguished by red, itchy, and cracked skin, can also result from untreated toenail fungus because it can spread to the nearby skin. The warm, wet atmosphere found within shoes makes for the perfect habitat for the fungus to grow and spread.
Even more worrisome is the possibility of a widespread infection, which poses a serious risk, particularly for people with compromised immune systems like those with diabetes. Cellulitis, a bacterial skin condition that can be fatal, can result from the fungus penetrating the skin and creating cracks. If the infection is severe enough, it may potentially enter the bloodstream and become fatal.
Onycholysis, a condition where the toenail separates from the nail bed, can also occur in fungus-infected toenails. In some situations, it could be necessary to remove the damaged area of the nail. Avulsion of the entire nail or a matrix ectomy, which eliminates the nail’s developing core at the base, may be necessary in some cases if standard treatments are unsuccessful.
Dr. Joseph suggests visiting a doctor if there is a suspicion of an infection since he understands the significance of receiving medical care for toenail fungal infections. The existence of the fungus can be determined by analyzing a tiny sample of the toenail. Once a condition has been identified, treatment options include oral or topically applied antifungal medicines, which are often well tolerated and have few adverse effects.
Some doctors may choose to take a wait-and-see strategy in small cases that don’t cause discomfort, keeping an eye on the infected nail over time. The fungus might not become worse even though it is unlikely to go away on its own. A tiny amount of medicine may be recommended in these circumstances to alleviate aesthetic issues.
The main lesson to be learned from this is that toenail fungus should not be disregarded. Complications, discomfort, and the maintenance of healthy feet can all be avoided with early diagnosis and effective treatment. Therefore, do not hesitate to seek expert assistance from a healthcare specialist if you suspect a toenail fungal infection.