Toenail infections can cause many unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the most common are thickening and darkening of the nail, often followed by unpleasant smells and a distinct discharge. This grotesque discharge makes it look like nails are weeping, which is where the term “weeping nails” originates from.
The two most common types of nail fungus that cause the “weeping” symptoms are fungal and bacterial infections known as Onychia and Paronychia. Read on to learn all about these infections, how people contract them, and what you can do to stop them.
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Onychia & Paronychia – What Is The Difference?
Onychia and Paronychia are two of the most common types of infections that affect the nails. Onychia is an infection directly of the nail, which greatly distresses the skin around the nail and the nail itself. This causes intense inflammation and pain, which is a great source of distress among sufferers.
Paronychia affects the perimeter around the area where the nail abuts the skin. This type of infection is most likely to cause excessive abscesses and pus, and lead to the appearance of “weeping” toenails. This sensation is painful, but also quite embarrassing for a sufferer and can lead to a lot of mental anguish and insecurity.
What Causes The Infection?
Generally, the most common source of infection comes from damage to the skin or nail. Unfortunately, this can be something as small as a cut, ingrown toenail, or bad stubbing. This makes prevention extremely difficult, so you should always take the utmost precaution when dealing with your feet.
Poor foot hygiene is also a substantial contributor to these diseases. Many people reuse old moist socks, shoes, and bedding, which can lead to a multitude of foot and nail infections.
Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, this makes your chances of contracting these diseases much higher and much harder to treat due to poor blood flow, which is known as peripheral vascular disease. If you are diabetic, take the utmost care to prevent foot and nail problems.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are some obvious symptoms to look for when discussing these ailments. Like with most nail infections, Onychia and Paronychia are easier to treat the sooner they are identified, so be on the lookout for these symptoms.
- Pain emanating from the nails and feet.
- Abscesses forming under and around the nail.This is also generally the source of the weeping. If this continues untreated, it can actually raise the nail bed causing extreme pain.
- Inflammation. The speed of this depends on whether the infection is bacterial or fungal in nature. Fungal infections tend to appear more quickly, while bacterial infections take longer.
What Are My Treatment Options?
If you think you have Onychia or Paronychia, you should immediately see your doctor to make a diagnosis and judge the severity of the infection.
If the infection is more advanced, the doctor may need to drain the abscesses. Your doctor may prescribe various anti-fungal or antibacterial medications to help aid in your recovery. In certain cases, surgery may need to be performed if the infection is unrelenting. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatment regimen.
How Can I Prevent Infections?
There are many things that you can do to prevent onychia, paronychia, and other forms of foot and nail fungus such as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and onychomycosis.
- Clean your feet daily, and practice good foot hygiene. Fungus love water, so make sure after you wash them to dry them off completely before putting on socks or shoes.
- Never go barefoot in public places, specifically saunas and public pools. Additionally, fungi can be found in certain types of grasses, so avoid going barefoot outside as well whenever possible.
- Avoid sketchy nail salons. Many people enjoy a nice pedicure now and then but make sure that you are only going to places that clean and sterilize their equipment on a regular basis.
- Keep your toenails trim and proper. However, avoid cutting too close to the nail bed, as this can cause discomfort.
The main take away here to is always be diligent about your foot health. For many, this involves a tremendous lifestyle shift, which can be hard to maintain. However, it is extremely important to try and maintain proper foot hygiene, because many of these ailments can be extremely difficult to treat and have awful implications, such as nail deformity.
Always take great care of your feet and nails in order to prevent nail and foot fungus outbreaks. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, seek a medical professional immediately and start treating these infections as soon as possible.