Fungal infections are common on both fingernails and toenails. Toenail fungus also known as onychomycosis is caused by a group of fungus called dermatophytes. These fungus are harmful because as they grow they feed on the keratin that makes up the surface of the toenail. The two fingers that are more likely to be affected are the big toe finger and the little toe finger. Toenail fungus causes disfiguration and discolouration of the nails. It is a contagious disease and sometimes it may be hereditary.
Symptoms of toenail fungus are quite obvious. The affected nail will get yellow or brown in colour. It may become so thick and overgrown that it may be painful to wear shoes. Foul-smelling debris may get accumulated under the nail. The nail may crumble and eventually fall off.
You may get affected by the toenail fungus in damp areas such as public gyms, shower stalls or swimming pools. Toenail fungus can spread from one toe to another or to other body parts. Athletes and people who give trauma to their toe by wear tight-fitting shoes or tight hosiery are at great risk of toe nail fungus. Other reasons may be abnormal pH level of the skin, not drying off the feet thoroughly after bathing or exercise, and decreased immunity.
A lack of personal hygiene can be another major contributing factor, as wearing socks and shoes for prolonged periods creates the perfect environment for fungal growth – a moist and warm habitat. Sharing footwear and other personal items also poses a significant risk.