White Spots On Toenails

White Spots on Toenails: What do They Indicate?

Have you been noticing white spots on your toe nails lately? Are you worried about what they mean? Well, there are two possibilities. If these are crescent or lines, these are occasional appearances that do not mean anything much and do not need to be treated. But if on close examination you are sure you have spots, these can be indicative of the early stages of a fungus infection.

If you find that there is a thickening and darkening of the nail and progressively increasing spots, then you can be sure that what you are dealing with is a fungal infection under the nail. Many times the infection goes undetected until there is a smell also from the infected toenail. By catching it at the stage of the white spots on your toe nails, you can be aggressive in treating it and prevent a worsening of the infection. An untreated fungal infection in one toe can spread to the other toenails and this can lead to pain, tingling sensation and even numbness. The nails will get very thick and hard and become difficult to cut and sometimes the nail may split from the skin below and become very painful especially when walking.

You can use a topical ointment if you are in the early stages of the infection for dealing with the problem. There are many anti-fungal creams that are available over the counter which can be effective in fighting the fungal infection. You do need to know that these ointments do not penetrate the nail to attack the underlying skin infection. For that you do have to take oral medication - these tend to be prescription drugs and so if the fungal infection is showing signs of worsening you should promptly visit a doctor and start that treatment. That is, if the spots increase and there is a growing stained look on the toenails then the topical ointment is not addressing the issue and you need to ramp up your response. Your doctor is likely to prescribe a medication which has fluconazole, terbinafine or itraconazole and these are usually found to take effect in about 90 days. One of the fairly recent developments in fungal nail treatment is a liquid version of ciclopirox. The FDA has approved the use of this drug as of 1999 and you need to apply this like a nail polish everyday. However, it does take a while to cure the problem.  Some fungal nail treatment pills are known to have a side effect on the liver and so your doctor may request a baseline liver test prior to starting the treatment and six weeks into it.

White spots on your toenails are useful as an early indicator of the fungal infection problem and there are effective ways to tackle it. It is also useful to know how to completely avoid it. Your toenails are particularly vulnerable to fungal infections because they are often encased in shoes which leave them in a dark and moist environment. It is important that you understand and avoid situations which lead to white spots on your toenails so that you can prevent future attacks of the toenail fungus. You may catch the infection at a swimming pool or gym shower while bare feet in a damp place and the darkness and moistness prove very conducive for the fungal infection. So, it is recommended that you avoid going bare feet in public places and that you use pool shoes or shower sandals. You should also practice regular hygiene in washing your feet thoroughly with soap and water everyday. Make it a point to change your socks everyday as smelly and sweaty socks can be a breeding ground for infections. Remember that dampness and darkness is a recipe for fungal growth and ensure that you air out your feet after they have become wet.