Black toenail fungus, although called onychomycosis, is a type of fungus which commonly infects the toes and nails, although it can sometimes affect the fingers as well. It is highly contagious and is often spread by those who use public showers or walk around public places without shoes. Injury to the toe or nail may also make one more prone to getting a fungal infection.
Symptoms of toenail fungus can begin as a small dark spot beneath one or more nails, brittleness, a foul odor, and flaking or chipping of the nails. The discoloration often spreads and sometimes shows up as a combination of yellow and black colors. Because of the contagious nature of toenail fungal infections, these symptoms should be investigated by a medical professional as soon as they are detected.
Many who experience black toenail fungus experience intense pain beneath the nail. Discoloration can also be an issue for those who like to wear sandals during warm weather. Treatments may vary based on the severity of the condition. Natural remedies are often attempted first since medicinal options can cause serious side effects in some patients.
There are foot soaks which have been shown to alleviate toenail fungus in some individuals. Vinegar, antiseptic mouthwash, and other natural remedies can be combined with water. Feet may have to be soaked several times before results become apparent. There are also specially prepared natural foot soaks which can be purchased from some health food stores and online. These may not work permanently for all individuals.
Severe cases of black toenail fungus may have to be treated by a doctor using prescription medications. These have been known to cause negative reactions in some individuals. Side effects will vary, but sometimes serious complications can arise. Kidney and liver damage may occur in rare instances.
The best way to combat black toenail fungus is to prevent it from the beginning. It is important to wear shoes in public areas, to wash feet thoroughly, and to avoid toenail injury by wearing protective footwear when playing sports or lifting heavy items. Treatment should begin at the first sign of infection and a doctor should be notified to ensure that symptoms are being caused by fungus and not something else. Over the counter treatments are available, but these are often ineffective at getting rid of fungus.