The forgotten symptom of toe nail fungus infections

The forgotten symptom of toe nail fungus infections

Read enough about fungal infections of the nails and you’ll quickly get an idea of the common symptoms. Most often talked about are discoloration of the nail (mostly to brown or yellow), a build up of debris under the nail; peeling, flaky nails and general unsightliness. You’ll also read about nail pain and nails lifting off the nail bed in the most severe cases of toe nail fungus.

What is missing from the list?

It’s the emotional symptoms of nail fungus infections that are often not spoken about. In our experience speaking with sufferers, many feel a great deal of embarrassment and social awkwardness with their disease. This can be to such an extent that it curbs their activities and social interaction. Although the disease is more common in toenails than fingernails, it can also affect the fingers. For people suffering from fingernail fungus infections the embarrassment can be even more acute as the condition is harder to hide.

Here are some examples of behavior changes from people we have spoken with:

  • No longer going to the beach
  • Avoiding the gym because of the public showers and changing rooms
  • Not going swimming at busy times, or at all
  • Never wearing open-toed sandals or thongs
  • Applying layers of thick nail polish over the infected nails (this can make matters worse)
  • Not wearing their favorite shoes so as not to infect them
  • Always wearing socks (despite the fact that fungus thrives in dark and warm environments)
  • Constantly fretting about cross-infections

The upshot can be a loss of quality of life and psycho-social issues. The good news of course is that the fungus infections of the toe nails and fingernails are treatable. And that sufferers can easily stake steps to avoid passing the disease to others in public places and avoid cross-infections.

But it’s important not to loose sight of the emotional aspects of the disease. With more awareness and education fewer people will suffer a loss of self esteem and embarrassment. And that can only be a good thing.

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