What's The Worst That Can Happen When You Don't Treat Nail Fungus?

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Nail fungus attacks your toe or finger nails. It's characterized by scaling under the nails, white or yellowish streaks on the nails, and crumbling nail corners. The disease is notoriously difficult to treat and it's relatively painless in its early stages. These two things make many people reluctant to seek treatment, but that isn't a wise move. Failure to treat nail fungus may lead to several health complications, including the five discussed below:

Pain When Walking

If you continue living with untreated toenail fungus, then it's not just the discoloration and unsightly appearance of your nails that you will be worried about. The infection may intensify to the point where walking may be uncomfortable or even painful. In fact, this is the point (when the pain begins) where many people seek treatment.

Loss of Nails

Although rare, it's possible for the fungal infection to progress to the point where you lose your nails. Before you actually lose your nails, they may become brittle (especially at the corners) and start crumbling and breaking off. In the worst case scenario, you may even lose the infected nails. This is what happens in onycholysis, a condition in which your nail separate (often painlessly) from the nail bed.

Spread To Other Parts of the Body

In some cases, untreated nail fungus does not just confine itself to the nails; it spreads to other parts of the body. For example, it may spread to the skin and groin area. An attack on your skin may make it itchy, red and cracked; this condition is known as athlete's foot. If it spreads to the groin area, it may cause an uncomfortable and embarrassing fungal infection known as jock itch.

Increased Risk of Infection

Living with a nail fungus for a long period also increases your risk of developing other infections. The risk is even higher if the disease spreads to other parts of the body. For example, the cracks in your skin may serve as entry points for disease-causing microorganisms. Don't forget that any infection, including fungal nail infections, lowers your immunity. This also raises your susceptibility to other diseases. This can be dangerous if you are already living with a chronic health condition such as diabetes.

These aren't simple complications and you wouldn't want to develop any of them. Therefore, don't make any treatment decisions at home without consulting a dermatologist, such as Oregon Foot Clinic. Leave it up to your doctor to determine whether to treat your nail fungus or not.