The Risks of Ignoring Fungal Infections

Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, may seem like a minor aesthetic concern, but neglecting it can lead to significant health issues. Dr. Peter Joseph from Allegheny Health Network warns that untreated infected toenails can cause foot discomfort, making walking uncomfortable due to the thickening and misshaping of the nails. Additionally, it can lead to athlete’s foot, characterized by red, itchy, and cracked skin, as the fungus spreads to nearby skin within the warm, moist confines of shoes.

More concerning are the potential risks of widespread infection, especially for those with compromised immune systems like individuals with diabetes. The fungus penetrating the skin can result in cellulitis, a potentially fatal bacterial skin condition. Severe cases may even lead to bloodstream infections with fatal outcomes.

Onycholysis, where the toenail separates from the nail bed, is another possible consequence, requiring removal of the damaged nail area or, in extreme cases, the entire nail. Dr. Joseph emphasizes prompt medical attention for suspected infections, as timely diagnosis is crucial. Treatment options, including oral or topically applied antifungal medicines, are effective and well-tolerated.

Ignoring toenail fungus can lead to complications and discomfort, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and effective treatment for maintaining healthy feet. Seeking professional help from a healthcare specialist is advised if a toenail fungal infection is suspected.

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