It is known that about 10% of the population have nail fungus in the US – especially in the elderly population. Since nail fungus is usually not symptomatic, many people consider it as a cosmetic problem and don’t seek a doctor for help. However, ignoring the fungal nail infection could cause more complications other than the change in appearance.
The spread of the fungus
Untreated toenail fungus could spread surrounding skin. It may cause nail fungus in other nails or athlete’s foot (symptom: itchiness, rashes, skin peeling on your foot or between toes). The fungi can easily spread under a warm and moist condition, such as inside of shoes and socks. Although it is less common, the toenail fungus can also spread outside of the foot causing itchiness in other areas such as jock itch.
The spread of the infection
People with a weakened immune system such as those who with cancer or diabetes can develop complication from fungal nail infection easier than others. Cracking in your skin due to the fungus can let bacteria and other yeast and mold inside the skin, which could cause bacterial skin infection (i.e. cellulitis). In severe cases, those infections can spread into the bloodstream and become deadly. They can happen by a single untreated nail fungus.
Pain in foot
Nail fungus changes your nail shape and texture, such as thick/thin, brittle, dull, and rough surface. When it gets severe, those changes give you foot pain and sometimes make it harder to walk. Also, athlete foot can also give you skin burning or stinging sensation.
Loss of nails
When fungus spread to the nail bed, it could make your nail loose. If the nail becomes too loose and unsecured, you may have to take out a part of your nail.
The earlier you seek help and see a doctor, the easier to treat. If you start seeing some changes in your nail, don’t hesitate to ask help!