The Surprising Dangers of Ignoring a Fungal Toenail Infection
What if one of your biggest health warnings was hidden not in front of you but below you?
There are plenty of symptoms that are effectively major warning signs for our health. For example, the sudden appearance of spots on your body or even the appearance of pus or blood are obvious signs something has gone wrong. However, things like yellowing toenails are also signs of a potential major issue, but they are often overlooked by people who think this isn’t really a big deal.
Yellowing, brittle nails are often a sign of a fungal toenail infection. Even if doesn’t seem like a major issue now, very bad things can happen if you ignore it. Keep reading to discover the surprising dangers of ignoring a fungal toenail infection!
Your nails may fall out
One of the main reasons people choose to ignore fungal toenail infections is that these infections don’t necessarily have a major impact on daily life…at first. However, if you ignore the issue long enough, it could lead to some or even all of your toenails falling out!
How does that work? Eventually, you could develop onycholysis, which is a condition in which your toenails actually separate from the nail bed. Obviously, this can be very painful, but you may be able to avoid all of this by treating the infection sooner rather than later.
The fungus may spread
Another reason why people tend to ignore fungal toenail functions until it is too late is that they believe the infection will stay localized to the toenails. However, if the infection is left unchecked, it won’t be that long until it spreads into your foot.
In fact, that’s how athlete’s foot starts, and that can make the skin of your foot red, cracked, and very itchy. In extreme cases, the infection can spread to your genitals, which is where jock itch comes from. Contrary to cultural stereotypes, that can happen to men and women alike, so it’s important for everyone to practice good toenail hygiene.
Increased foot pain
We’ve already covered how unchecked toenail infections can lead to painful athlete’s foot. But here’s a surprising fact: even if you don’t get athlete’s foot, the infection may lead to other kinds of foot pain that make the simple act of walking into a painful, excruciating task.
The reason for this is that the infection may cause the toenails themselves to become thick and weirdly-shaped. This won’t necessarily cause pain when you are walking barefoot, but a change in your overall foot shape can make it painful to walk in shoes or even put shoes on. Instead of replacing all of your shoes with a bigger size, we recommend the easier and far cheaper solution of treating your infected toes.
It can cause cellulitis and other issues
It’s bad enough that a toenail infection can spread into areas like your foot and your genitals. Believe it or not, it gets worse: eventually, it’s possible for the infection to spread to your skin. This may lead to cellulitis, which causes your skin to swell up and become very red and painfully tender.
The good news is that it’s possible to treat cellulitis with antibiotics. The bad news is that the infection itself can be deadly if it enters your bloodstream. Such a terrible fate can happen to anyone, but those with a weaker immune system (including people who have diabetes) are at particular risk of developing cellulitis.
The early signs of a fungal toenail infection
Here’s a little more good news: if you’re worried that your own toenails may be infected, you don’t necessarily need to get a professional diagnosis from your doctor. In many cases, it’s possible to self-diagnose because there are some very obvious fungal infection signs.
Take a close look at your toenails under some good lighting. Look for any nails that appear to be discolored, thick, or brittle. In some cases, the nails may be misshapen, stinky, or even starting to separate from the nail bed. In short, if your toenails look dramatically different from those of others in your life, you very likely have a fungal infection.
How to treat your toenail fungus before it’s too late
There are some over-the-counter medications and skin treatments that may help you get rid of unwanted fungal toenail infections. However, if these treatments don’t work, or if you think the infection may already be spreading, we recommend you consult with your doctor ASAP.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe more effective medications and topical treatments. Fortunately, most of these forms of treatment have very few side effects and will help you get control of the infection in no time. Once that happens, you may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much easier it is to walk, jog, or run!