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What Causes Yellow Toenails?

By Mark Slansky
Food Pyramid -

Fear of social ridicule keeps many people from discussing the issue openly; however, a large part of the population has dealt with or is currently living with yellow toenails. Though it undoubtedly looks unpleasant, yellow toenails are the result of common fungal infections and if treated regularly, can generally be restored to a healthy state.

While our feet are amazing tools that allow us to be active, they often pay the price for their excessive daily movement and more importantly, close containment. As we run, play sports or move around our homes, our nails have the tendency to take the brunt end of foot damage. Nails are relatively fragile and tend to crack as the result of minor impacts. Even a small crack in the plate of a toenail can result in the development of a fungal infection.

We use shoes to protect our feet; however, most people don’t consider the fact that shoes keep our feet contained in small, dark spaces. As we move, our feet sweat and the heat that is produced can be a perfect incubator for bacteria. If growing bacteria happens to find their way into the cracks of a toenail bed, a fungal infection can take root and immediately begin to spread. Because these infections take root underneath the toenail bed, they can be difficult to treat.

Fungal infections can result in several types of visible symptoms including yellow toenails alongside nail splitting, cracking, odor, thickening and flaking. While these symptoms can occur simultaneously, in most cases, an infection will be noticed by the initial discoloration. While infections can develop as a result of shoe moisture and bacteria growth, yellow toenails can also be contacted when bacteria is transferred in shared showers, pools or salons.

Depending on the severity of the fungal infection, there are various treatment options to be utilized. A pharmacist can recommend various creams and liquid medications that can be applied to the yellow toenails topically. More severe cases may require oral medications that can be prescribed by a primary physician. If each of these treatments has been utilized and the symptoms persist, it is recommended that patients see a podiatrist for a professional medical examination and treatment plan.

If you haven’t developed yellow toenails as a result of a fungal infection, and would like to take steps to prevent contraction, there are several things you can do on a daily basis. Making sure that you purchase shoes with plenty of room for your toes is an essential factor in avoiding toenail fungi from taking root. Treating your feet with proper hygiene practices in general will help to avoid painful and frustrating infections. Make sure to always wear clean socks, keep feet dry and clean and wear a variety of shoes as to avoid moisture build-up in a single pair. Yellow toenails may not be pretty, but they are preventable. Taking time to make sure your shoes fit and your feet are well cared for can help you avoid infection and keep your toenails in top condition.

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