Toenail fungus typically starts out as nothing more than a small white or yellow dot underneath the nail. Therefore, it can be easy to ignore – at least at first. For some people, that’s all it will ever be. For others, a fungus can grow and run the risk of becoming somewhat out of control. Does toenail fungus cause other health problems? Unfortunately, the answer to that question needs quite a bit of explanation.
There are some factors to consider when wondering how toenail fungus can affect your health overall. First, it’s important to know how you contracted the fungus in the first place. Trauma to the nail might cause things like nerve damage, bleeding, etc.
It’s also important to know if you have any pre-existing conditions. Sometimes, a toenail fungus can bring symptoms from other conditions to life if unexpected ways. But, whether you have other health conditions or not, leaving a toenail fungus untreated has its own complications to consider. It’s also a condition that won’t go away on its own.
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Does Toenail Fungus Cause Other Health Problems?
A nail fungus won’t cause any other major health issues. You cannot get cancer, diabetes, etc., from something like a toenail fungus. However, that isn’t to say these conditions don’t often go hand in hand. Not properly treating a fungus can also lead to additional problems that wouldn’t exist if it was treated.
As we look at how pre-existing medical conditions can be affected by a nail fungus, you’ll see just how important it can be to get it taken care of as quickly as possible. We’ll also take a look at a few things that can happen when you don’t get it treated right away.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
If you have pre-existing health conditions, a toenail fungus can lead to serious complications. One of the most common health conditions associated with toenail fungus and its dangers is diabetes.
When you have diabetes or any other condition that can weaken the immune system, it’s so important to treat a toenail fungus immediately. Because of a compromised immune system, you run the risk of the fungus spreading. If it’s able to do that, other parts of your body can easily become infected.
Diabetes can drastically reduce the amount of circulation in your feet, and can also cause nerve damage. Anyone who has a weakened immune system, or diabetes, likely knows the importance of taking care of your feet. Any sort of damage or trauma to the feet/toes can cause a lot of issues.
If you do have a pre-existing condition with a weakened immune system, allowing a toenail fungus to spread can fuel other health complications. While the fungus itself may not be the cause of the health issues, it’s a great catalyst to fuel the symptoms that can come with many types of conditions.
Complications of Ignoring Toenail Fungus
Typically, people don’t consider a toenail fungus to be anything more than a cosmetic issue. For the most part, that’s true. But, that really can only remain the case when you go through the proper treatment. Is it unsightly? Yes, but letting it go without treatment can lead to other health complications that go far beyond what it looks like.
One of the most common complications associated with toenail fungus is the pain. Letting a fungus go can cause it to spread to other toes. And, because one of the most common symptoms of a toenail fungus is hardened, thick nails, it can create a lot of pain when it comes to walking, wearing shoes, etc. As your nails continue to grow while they’re infected with fungus, it will become harder and harder to keep them trimmed, which can make something as simple as putting on a sock painful.
Spreading and Infection
Toenail fungus grows and spreads easily. Because of this, if it’s left untreated, it can spread out to other areas of the body. Typically, this starts with a spread to the skin surrounding your toes. When a fungal infection reaches this area, it’s commonly known as athlete’s foot. It can cause cracking of the skin, which makes it extremely easy for bacteria to get into exposed areas. When this happens, the infection can spread even more rampantly.
If the infection does spread and gets into exposed areas of the skin, it can seep into your bloodstream, and become deadly. If you notice your toenail fungus spreading at all, with blistering, cracking skin, see your doctor about antibiotics for the infection as soon as possible.
Losing Your Toenails
Occasionally, a toenail fungus that is left untreated can become so bad that it separates the nail itself from the nail bed. When this occurs, the infected portion of the nail will need to be removed. This isn’t always an easy procedure and can be quite painful when it comes to healing and recovery. In some instances, doctors will actually ‘stop’ the growth of the nail after removing it, so a nail will never grow back from where it was removed.
How to Stop Health Problems from Toenail Fungus
The best way to avoid other health issues when you have a toenail fungus is to treat the fungus as soon as possible.
Does a toenail fungus cause other health problems? Realistically, yes; everything from pain, to the potential loss of your toenails. While it may not be the sole culprit behind things like diabetes or weakened immune systems, it can also be a huge trigger in making those conditions worse.
When left untreated, a toenail fungus can grow into something far more serious. It can lead to further infection, and in some cases, even death. While these specific conditions may be rare, it’s important not to ignore them. If you have a toenail fungus, the best thing you can do is to start treatment to get rid of it.