If left unattended can nail fungus be harmful and get into your blood stream?

Toenail fungal infection or Onychomycosis, as it is known medically, is by no means an uncommon condition and in fact makes up for at least a third of all fungal skin infections, and up to half of all nail diseases. The incidence of toenail fungus among the general population is also quite high, in addition to which many cases go unreported as there are many who rely on home treatments, and others who simply neglect the problem for a variety of reasons.

As the name itself suggests, the infection is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, but it is not uncommon for the infection to also be characterized with a bacterial presence. The infection progresses and develops as it sets into the nail bed or nail plate. As the condition progresses further it also displays more noticeable symptoms such as a gradual discoloration or yellowing, and at times even blackening, of the nails. There may also be changes in texture, with the nail becoming brittle and crumbly. There may also be irregular growth. The symptoms are not all purely cosmetic and it can also cause problems like ingrown toenails, decreased circulation, pain and soreness, secondary systemic skin infections, and in severe cases – yes, it can spread to the blood stream, in which case it is termed as a systemic infection.

If treated promptly a nail fungal infection should be no cause for concern as it is non threatening. Delaying treatment or attempting to treat it with half measures will simply prolong it and allow the infection to set in. The longer the infection prevails the more resistant to treatment it becomes and the stronger the treatments needed will be. It also means that treatment is a lot slower and recovery will take a lot longer.

Do keep in mind that although home remedies and natural treatments are a valuable resource for health care, but there are some conditions that cannot be treated with such methods. Home remedies are largely ineffective against a toenail infection. They can however be used as complimentary treatments. Ointments and applications that are available over the counter are however quite useful. Oral medications may also be required however, as very often topical applications are not very effective as they cannot reach the site of infection, with the fungi protected under the thick nail.

One aspect of your treatment that is independent of medications and just as necessary however would be personal hygiene and self care. This is essential not just for your recovery, but also to protect others against infection. Never share footwear, whether socks, sandals, or shoes, and avoid moving around barefooted. Make it a point to at least wear shower slippers when using public bathrooms or shower stalls, at gymnasiums, or locker rooms, as these are common sources of infection. Never share your towels, linen or nail cutters. Keep up these basic practices well after the infection seems to resolve, as a relapse can be a lot more severe.

answered by S D

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