The Ugly Truth about Why Toenail Fungus Keeps Coming Back
Nail fungus itself is bad enough just once, even if it’s a mild case. Caused by trapped moisture underneath the toenail, this type of fungus can spread easily. It causes a foul odor, thickening and hardening of the toenail, and pain in some cases. If you think about it, toenails are the perfect environment for a fungus to grow.
Our toes are often in warm places like socks and shoes that can lock in moisture and ‘trap’ it underneath the nail. Toes also have a lesser amount of blood flow than other parts of the body. This can make a fungus harder for your body’s immune system to detect and fight off.
How long does it take to get rid of toenail fungus? Well, that depends on the type of treatment you’re using to fight against it. Typically, most treatments can get rid of the fungus in 2 to 6 months. Everyone’s individual case is different.
It’s best to talk to your doctor about the right treatment options for toenail fungus. The important thing is to make sure once you do start treating it, you follow through with a full treatment plan. Don’t just stop as soon as it appears to be cleared up. This can be one of the biggest mistakes that causes toenail fungus to return.
There are also plenty of reasons why toenail fungus keeps coming back. Some people deal with it over and over again, even after they believe treatment as cured it. It’s not an hereditary problem, but it is broadly connected to your health and lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at common reasons for recurring toenail fungus, and some tips you can use to treat it for good.
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Understanding Why Toenail Fungus Keeps Coming Back
There are a number of reasons for toenail fungus returning. As stated above, your nails provide the perfect environment for a fungus to grow and thrive. But, even after it is ‘gone,’ we can make the same mistakes that caused it to appear in the first place. Some common causes include:
- Not Fully Treated: Even if you take the time and care to get treatment for toenail fungus, sometimes we can think it’s fully treated before it actually is. Instead of going by what your nail looks like, finish out your treatment completely before stopping. The toenail fungus itself will be beneath the nail, so it can sometimes be difficult to see the actual state. Even if you think it’s cleared up, use your treatment for several weeks after, to ensure that it’s gone.
- Infected Spaces: Chances are, you first got your fungus from an infected surface. This could be a nail salon, public shower, or even your own shoes. If you keep exposing your feet to these surfaces without proper disinfecting techniques in place, it is extremely easy for the nail fungus to keep coming back.
- Medical Conditions: Sometimes, a recurring toenail fungus can happen because of other issues with our bodies. A weakened immune system, poor circulation, or even diabetes or nerve problems can make it easy for the fungus to keep coming back.
- Toenail Polish: Polishes are an unlikely culprit for causing fungus, but does nail polish make toenail fungus worse? Using regular polish certainly can. It’s not the polish itself that really causes the problem. It’s the fact that it’s trapping in moisture beneath the nail bed, and not allowing that moisture to evaporate. Many women will try to use nail polish as a way to hide toenail fungus with polish. In reality, it could just be making it worse, or letting it come back in time.
There are antifungal toenail polishes that can help, available in a variety of colors. These antifungal polishes contain things like Vitamin E and C, and sometimes tea tree oil. The best types include DaniPro and Dr.’s Remedy.
How to Know If Toenail Fungus Is Dying
Fungus can take a while to actually show up and be noticeable. You should expect the healing process to be relatively slow, as well. You’ll notice some pretty drastic changes to the look and feel of your nail as the fungus takes hold. Once those symptoms (yellowing, dark spots etc) start to fade, you’re likely to notice them fairly quickly.
The first thing that’s easy to see is that your nail will become less hardened and brittle. It won’t look so thick, and will start to feel like a ‘normal’ nail again. Secondly, the discoloration will begin to fade. Oftentimes, a fungus can create a sort of yellow tint to the nail, instead of a healthy flesh color. If you experienced any kind of odor, look for that to disappear as well as the fungus is dying.
Even if your symptoms begin to fade away, keep using treatment for your fungus until it is completely healed. An infection won’t go away on its own. Even if it looks like it’s dying, you can’t give up on treatment until it is fully gone. You’ll be putting yourself at risk for it to come back again, and again, leaving you to start the treatment process over from the beginning.
When considering treatment, it’s important to decide what’s best for you. Again, consulting with your doctor can be a great place to start. In some cases, you can get a prescription topical agent from your doctor to help heal the fungus even faster.
But, there are also plenty of great over-the-counter products available that can fight back against toenail fungus and get rid of it quickly. Don’t forget to do your research when it comes to treatment options. What has worked well for other people will likely work well for you, too!
How to Prevent Toenail Fungus from Coming Back
It can be a stubborn thing, and it’s so easy for it to keep coming back. There maybe be no 100% guaranteed way to prevent it. But, there are plenty of tips you can use to fight back, and create an environment that makes it harder for the fungus to spread.
First and foremost, if you’ve just gotten over a nail fungus, it’s important to deodorize your shoes, and make sure socks are washed thoroughly. These are already warm, moist environments that make it easy for fungus to grow. So, you don’t want to risk a fungus already being in the materials when you’re putting them on your feet.
Additionally, try to change your socks as often as possible. Wear material that can absorb moisture, rather than ‘lock it in.’
Wear Footwear in Public Places
Going barefoot in public places can be risky as well, especially if it’s a place where many people go barefoot, like a public shower, gym, etc. These places are true breeding grounds for nail fungus. Even if you have a fungus that has cleared up completely, going to a place like this can be a great way for it to come back quickly. If you have to use a public shower, try wearing flip-flops, or specialty shower shoes to protect your feet.
Avoid Trimming Skin around Nails
Finally, try to leave the skin around your nails alone. Picking or trying to trim the skin around your toenails can cause a fungus to spread, even if it starts out as something minor. Perhaps the worst thing that can happen when a toenail fungus is spreading, and this is a great way to do it.
If you find that your toenail fungus keeps coming back time and again, and continues to spread, talk to your doctor about long-term treatment options. While antifungal creams, foot soaks, etc., can be useful, some doctors can recommend things like laser nail therapy, or even removal of the nail altogether.
These can seem like somewhat extreme measures, but they are certainly better than the alternative of having a perpetually-recurring nail fungus.
Keeping Toenail Fungus Under Control
Having an infection can be embarrassing, and irritating, to say the least. While it can feel difficult to get rid of at times, don’t lose hope in wiping it out completely. It’s a condition that takes patience, and a strong treatment regimen to take care of, as well as precautionary measures to help avoid it in the future.
By following some of the helpful hints here, and knowing what can cause a toenail fungus to keep coming back in the first place, you have a better chance of it healing completely.