A nail fungus infection, also known as onychomycosis, is the most common nail disorder. But what causes nail fungus? Fungus is caused by fungi, which are tiny parasitic organisms that thrive in warm, moist environments and feed off of keratin, which is the main protein in your nails, hair and skin. Nail fungus causes overproduction of keratin in the nails making them thicken and separate from the nail bed.
Our feet harbor several types of fungi and have more fungi than anywhere else on our bodies. However, not all of them are harmful. The main two types of fungi that cause toenail infections are dermatophytes and yeasts. Dermatophytes are typically the cause of nail fungus in temperate parts of the world, while yeasts are more prevalent in the tropics and are more likely to cause infections of the fingernails.
Fungal skin infection
Athlete’s foot, which causes the skin between your toes to become itchy, red and flaky, is a common cause of nail fungus infections. Both athlete’s foot and onychomychosis are caused by dermatophytes, and the infection can easily spread from the skin to the toenails.
Damaged nails or skin
Nail biting, repeated trauma, old injuries and tiny cuts in the skin around the nails can also increase the risk of fungal infection.
Exposure to moisture and humidity
Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments. They are commonly found in swimming pools and showers. Nail fungus is also contagious. Using public showers and walking barefoot on the floor in a locker room puts you at a higher risk for contracting it from other people.
Onychomychosis is more common in the toenails than in the fingernails, mostly because the dark, moist and warm environment in your shoes creates the perfect breeding ground for fungi. Shoes also restrict circulation in the feet, which makes it more difficult for the immune system to detect and fight the infection. Wearing tight-fitting and sweaty shoes while exposing the toenails to constant trauma is probably one reason why athletes are usually affected by fungal infection.
Diseases and medications
If your immune system is weakened due to an illness or use of medications such as steroids or antibiotics, you are more vulnerable to develop a fungal infection. Diabetes, cancer and poor circulation have all been linked to an increased risk for developing nail fungus infections.
Toenail fungus becomes more prevalent with age. This is common in people of old age because seniors have poorer circulation and thicker toenails that take longer to grow out.
Nail fungus is not hereditary but your genetic makeup can either make you more susceptible to the infection or more likely to fight it. If one family member has onychomychosis, others may also contract it from using the same shower or sharing personal items such as towels.
The Bottom Line
For healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by fungus that is caught from moist and wet areas. Communal showers at a gym or swimming pools are common sources. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting and sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having athlete’s foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. There are many factors that cause toenail fungus but fortunately, it can be treated with the help of a medical professional.
Let Us Help
Toenail fungus is unsightly, painful and common, yet no one ever talks about it. Because of this many myths surround the annoying fungus. If you are suffering from toenail fungus it is important to know the truth about the ailment. With the plethora of toenail fungus myths and misconceptions how can you ever get the treatment you need. Dr. Alfandari and Dr. Jamshidinia offer painless toenail fungus treatment in Los Angeles and non-surgical toenail fungus treatment in Los Angeles, while dispelling the biggest toenail fungus myths.
If you’re ready to eliminate your toenail fungus, contact Juvanail to learn more about the new Cool Touch FootLaser. With the combination of various toenail fungus treatments Juvanail offers, patients can enjoy rapid improvement in nail health, the end of toenail pain, and more importantly, a drastic improvement in nail clarity. Eliminate that unsightly toenail fungus once and for all.