An infected toenail can be very painful; however it can also lead to other more severe conditions that could even require you to have a toe amputated. Although amputation is rare, it is not unheard of. An infected toenail can be caused by ingrown toenails, poor hygiene, infection, and other conditions including gout.
Nail fungus is a common reason for people to develop an infected toenail. It may start off as appearing to be a slightly discolored patch on the toenail and then begin to spread. As the fungus penetrates deeper into the nail and skin the infection can worsen. Once the nail fungus has spread, the only way to fully get rid of it is with medication designed specifically to kill off the fungus that grows on and under your toenails.
Onycholysis is the medical term for infected toenails. Oncholoysis can consist of discolored toenails, cracked and brittle nails, darkening of the nails, and even cause the reflective shine of your nails to disappear. It isn't pretty -- as you can see in the picture below.
Infected Toenail Treatment
There are many different treatments for infected toes and the treatment plan will vary depending on how severe your toenail infection is. Many people wait to visit a doctor until their infection has progressed to the point where it is very painful. Instead, it is better to visit the doctor's office as soon as you notice a potential fungus problem. If you notice a small yellowing discoloration under one of your toenails then it is better, faster, easier, and less painful to get the fungus treated right away instead of letting it progress.
Fungus can also invade your fingernails and cause similar problems; however most infections will happen on the toenails and not the finger nails. The reason for this is that your fingernails are constantly exposed to fresh air while the feet are constantly enclosed in your shoes. Your warm sweaty feet trapped in shoes and socks make them the perfect breeding ground for fungus to thrive on. If you feet sweat a lot and you are required to be wearing socks and shoes at your job than you could begin wearing athletic socks that are specifically designed to wick the sweat away from your feet. Although this is not an ideal solution for preventing infected toenails, it can help tremendously.
A toenail can fall off if it is damaged enough by the fungus. Sometimes people will attempt a home remedy where they cut off their own toenail in an effort to rid their toes of the fungus that is causing them pain and discomfort. It is better to visit a doctor and let the professional decide the best way to treat your infected toenail. The doctor may end up cutting of all or part of your toenail as part of an effort to get rid of the fungus; however it is better to let the doctor think through the best route to fix your infected toenail instead of trying various home remedies that may or may not work.
Infected toenails can lead to a rash of other more severe problems. If you suspect that you may be getting an infected toenail then it is vital that you seek professional medical help as soon as possible to keep the infection from worsening.