You can see why people call it « toenail rot, » even though that is not the correct medical term for the condition. Nail fungus can make your toe nails and even your fingernails look like they are rotting away when the nails turn an unsightly yellow and become unnaturally thick. An infection of the nails by fungi (called onychomycosis in medical terminology) is not simply a cosmetic problem; it is not inherited; and it is contagious. A nail fungus infection must be taken seriously. It can be cured permanently if it is treated correctly, but if it is ignored or simply covered up, it can do substantial damage that may be permanent.
Fungal infections can occur in both the fingernails and in the toenails, but toe infections are more common. A fungal infection of the nails is usually easy to recognize by thickened, brittle nails that lose their luster and become discolored – yellow, brown, black or even green. « Toe nail rot » is not an accurate description, even though that is what it may appear as to the toe nail fungus patient.
The fungi that cause the infection invade the skin through small cuts or separations between the nail and the nail bed. Infections usually take hold after repeated exposure to warm, moist environments. Sources of infection can include public showers and swimming pools, old shoes with closed toes, or even home showers that are not cleaned often enough and that are used by other people with fungal infections. Athlete’s foot is caused by the same types of fungi from the same sources as the fungi that infect the nails, but athlete’s foot infections are limited to just the skin of the feet.
Fungal infections of the nails can spread from one nail to all of the nails, and the longer the infection grows, the harder it is to cure. IF YOU NOTICE A NAIL FUNGUS PROBLEM EARLY ENOUGH, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY TREAT IT WITH A NATURAL REMEDY LIKE TEA TREE OIL. HOWEVER, because of the damage that can result from long-term infection, it is very important to seek medical help and to obtain access to prescription drugs rather than just relying on home remedies, IF YOU ARE NOT QUICKLY SUCCESSFUL WITH A NATURAL REMEDY.
A doctor can prescribe one of several medicines you can take in pill form. These include itraconazole, fluconazole and terbinafine. Remember that it takes many weeks of daily treatment to cure a nail fungus infection with oral medication, so do not stop taking the prescribed medicine early just because your nails start to look better and you think your « nail rot » is cured. The appearance of the nail can improve even though the infection is still present. For a permanent « toenail rot » cure, the medicine must be taken long enough to kill all of the fungus. Other medical treatments that your doctor might recommend include daily use of an antifungal nail lacquer (ciclopirox), or a topical cream with an active ingredient such as econazole nitrate.
In severe « toenail rot » cases, the infected nail may have to be surgically removed to get rid of the infection. So, remember that early nail fungus treatment is always best, followed by care to prevent re-infection by avoiding repeated exposure to the sources of infection.