A minor discoloration on your toenails can be a sign of fungus and worthy of a doctor visit.
There's a lot of health dangers nowadays, such as cancer and diabetes and having a yellowish nail because of toenail fungus seems very insignificant. Since having toenail fungus usually isn't painful, most people would disregard the need for treatment.
However, ignoring a toenail infected with fungus could have health consequences beyond appearance.
Here are possible complications of a toenail fungus infection:
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, untreated toenail fungus may lead to difficulty walking or even wearing shoes, because of the pain. Infected nails may become thick and mishappen, leading to foot pain.
Spread of Fungus
If left untreated for a long time, the fungus can spread to the surrounding skin on the foot, which may result to athlete's foot, a condition marked by itchy, red and cracked skin. If you wear socks all day and one of your toenails is infected, it can spread quite easily since fungus thrives in a warm, dark and moist environment.
The fungus can also spread to the genitals, where it becomes jock itch, a condition which can affect both men and women.
If a simple toenail fungus spreads to the skin and cause it to crack, bacteria can get in and may cause cellulitis, a condition that produces swollen, red and tender skin and must be treated with antibiotics. This complication is of particular concern for people with diabetes and other chronic conditions that weaken the immune system.
In severe cases of cellulitis, the infection can enter the bloodstream and can be deadly. And it can all start from a simple fungal infection.
Loss of Nails
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains that toenails infected with fungus can separate from the nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis. If this happens, the loose portion of the nail will need to be removed. Even if an infected toenail doesn't become loose, it may still need to be removed if the fungus doesn’t go away with traditional treatments. In this case, a procedure called an avulsion is used to remove the entire nail. Sometimes the nail is removed permanently through a procedure called a matrixectomy.
Source: Everyday Health
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