Changes in the way that toenails look can be attributed to many factors and some of them don’t involve foot fungus. It is not uncommon to hit your toes as you walk around beds, or to squeeze them and your toes into shoes that are too small.
Seniors can have different issues with their toenails. One that springs to mind is diabetes. This can cause neuropathy where nerve endings in the feet and other extremities aren’t working well, so that you could have a serious injury in the area and not even feel it.
Diabetes, dry skin and athlete’s foot can all lead to fungal infections within the nail bed. When a fungus is present it is usually because of moisture from showering, swimming or the presence of another infection. It works its way under the nail bed. As the fungus grows and multiplies, it can push the edge of the nail upwards, leaving a space between it and the nail bed.
The big toe is usually the first to become affected. The toe will become discolored as the fungus grows. Fungal nails are thicker than usual and may flake.
You are in luck because nail fungus can be treated, and the sooner the better. And, you are not contagious. Others who come in contact with the same source of the fungus are more susceptible to getting toenail fungus but they can’t necessarily get it from you.
Once the problem is discovered you will need to take antifungal medication for a period of time to rid the nails of the fungus. Mostly the drugs are given orally. It can take up to a year for the fungus to completely disappear and there is no guarantee that a new exposure won’t bring the fungus right back. A topical antifungal much like nail polish can be used on the nail to help remove the fungus.
Preventing nail fungus is easier than getting rid of it. If you live in a nursing home or other facility where bathrooms are shared, wear flip-flops in the shower to protect your feet. Before putting on socks, be sure that feet are dry and that socks are breathable. And if you notice any difference in the look of your toenails, report it to a doctor.