Unless toenail fungus is unsightly and frustrating, it is tempting to ignore the condition. But what are the possible complications of leaving a toenail fungal infection untreated? This article will explore the potential health risks of untreated fungal infections in toenails and what you can do to prevent a worse condition.
If you are concerned about your fungal nails, please do not hesitate to contact a podiatrist. Best Foot Doctor is located in the NYC area, servicing Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and we would be happy to take a look at your infection and offer advice on the best treatment options.
Potential Complications from Toenail Fungus
If you have toenail fungus that is painful or has caused your nails to thicken, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Here are four ways that untreated toenail fungus can complicate your health further.
- It can spread to other nails. Toenail fungus is a growing infection and rarely stays in one place. Without proper treatment, the condition will continue to spread to other nails and potentially to other parts of the feet and body. A fungal infection in the feet is commonly known as athlete’s foot and is easily contagious.
- Fungal toenails can cause foot pain. In addition, as the infection grows and nails thicken, they can make it difficult to walk in shoes due to the pressure on the nails.
- For individuals with a compromised immune system, fungal infections can cause widespread disease throughout the body. If the bacteria from the toenail fungus gets inside the skin, even in a minor cut, it can cause cellulitis. This condition is prevalent in individuals who deal with diabetes. Cellulitis, if left untreated, can enter the bloodstream and be potentially deadly.
- You may lose the nail(s) entirely if the toenail fungus is left unchecked. When infected nails separate from the nail bed, they must be removed. Nails that do not respond to treatment may need to be surgically removed and will not grow back.
If you suspect that you may have a toenail fungus, it is always wise to make an appointment with a podiatrist. Your doctor can take a sample of the infected nail to confirm the presence of infection. For minor conditions, the toenail may not need immediate treatment. Although it probably will not go away on its own, it may not need intense treatment if the infection does not spread. Aggressively spreading infections should always be treated as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage.
Am I At Risk for Toenail Fungus?
While anyone can contract toenail fungus, we often see it in older adults (especially those over 60). You can reduce your risk of contracting toenail fungus or athlete’s foot with the following seven suggestions.
- Foot fungus is common in public areas like showers and swimming pools. Avoid going barefoot in these areas.
- Carefully clip your toenails. Aggressive clipping can cause cuts where bacteria can enter.
- Clean your nail clippers after use.
- Keep your feet dry.
- Soak your nails before cutting them or cut them after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across – avoid rounding the edges.
- Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe and that fit correctly.
If you have concerns about toenail fungus in the NYC area, please contact us for an appointment. Our trained staff will be happy to help you craft a plan of action to get your feet back to normal again.