What Causes Fungal Nail Infections?

When fungus suddenly appears on your toenail, you’re left wondering…

“where on earth did that come from?”

“I’m sure my toe didn’t used to look that?!”

Your toenail is now looking all shades of yellow to brown and not the nice normal pinky colour it once was. It’s also a bit thicker and maybe a bit smelly!

But, what is the stuff that has caused your nail to become like this?

The common toenail fungus (medically known as onychomycosis) is usually the same type of fungus that causes athletes foot (medically known as tinea pedis).

Tinea pedis is most commonly caused by a fungi called Trichophyton rubrum (T.rubrum).

How does Trichophyton rubrum infect the toenail?

T.rubrum release enzymes called keratinases into the superficial keratin layers in the skin or nail.

The T.rubrum cell walls contain a polysaccharide (a long molecular chain of carbohydrates) called mannans which inhibit our bodies immune response to the invading dermatophyte.

This means that the dermatophyte fungi can hang around for a long time in the skin or nail and slowly spread.

How does the fungus get into my nail?

A way of entry, such as a chipped, loose or broken nail can cause the fungus to invade the nail plate.

Fungus can enter the skin through a cut, abrasion or when the skin is very moist and macerated and therefore a bit more fragile.

So, how do I get rid of my toenail fungus?

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