Nail Fungal infection is one of the most common conditions of the toenails. It makes up about 50% of the total diseases of the nails. It is also one of the most common health conditions. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimates that about 3% to 12% of the world’s population has nail fungal infection. Fungus, like many other microorganisms, is found inside the human body. When these fungi grow beyond what they are expected to produce, health problems will become evident. For more related information (i.e symptoms, causes, treatments) about this nail condition read on below.
Symptoms Associated With Nail Fungus
Nail Fungal infection is also known as Onychomycosis (clinical name) or Tinea Unguium (scientific name). It is a more common fungal infection in adults and usually appears on the big toenails. When these fungi infect the toenails, they start off as whitish or yellowish tinge on the tips of the nails. This discoloration may sometimes be taken as an effect of constant nail painting, hence may be disregarded as normal. However, the fungi can multiply rapidly. Eventually, most of the nails will be transformed. Here are other symptoms associated with nail fungal infection.
- thickening of nails
- the nails become brittle
- the nails become deformed
- the nails may break
- the nails may be detached from the nail bed when the infection gets worse
If the condition is taken for granted, there may come a time that the affected area may become painful. Exercising, walking, even standing, may likewise become challenging once the condition worsens.
Causes of Nail Fungus Infection
The infection starts to spread when a fungus finds its way to the nail bed. There are several fungi that can cause the development of this infection. However, the fungi called dermatophytes (skin fungal) are the most common cause of the infection. There are times when yeast and molds may also because of it.
Other common causes of nail fungus are as follows:
- skin infection (like an athlete’s foot) may spread to the toenails and start to settle underneath the nails.
- nails that previously damaged make it easier for infection to set in.
- a weak immune system
- poor personal hygiene
- places where the climate is hot or humid
- pre-existing conditions like diabetes and psoriasis
- direct skin contact with things or person with the infection
Common treatments for nail fungus infection
There are a number of ways that this condition may be treated. You can either resort to OTC medications or prescribed medications. You may also consider home remedies to improve the condition of your nails. Here are the common treatment method used for each of these approaches.
OTC Medications. There are several over-the-counter medications available for the treatment of nail fungus infection. The treatment process using these treatment options may require several months before the expected result is achieved. It can take up to four months before the infection is cleared out. They may not be as effective in treating the nail condition unlike prescribed medications, but they are still worth the try.
Some opt to use OTC colorless nail polish as it usually contains the ingredients amorolfine or ciclopirox. These substances are able to exterminate the fungi or hamper their growth. Other over-the-counter options include antifungal creams that contain an ingredient known as urea. Topical treatments containing the drug bifonazole are also used as another OTC treatment alternative.
Prescription Treatments. Podiatrists may have different treatment plans for depending on the intensity of the infection that a person has. Oral medications, topical applications, and surgery are the options provided for the patient. Options will be provided only after an examination and a lab test are conducted as these will ensure that the appropriate treatment is prescribed to the patient. Common oral medications prescribed for onychomycosis are itraconazole (Sporanox) or terbinafine (Lamisil) as well as Fluconazole (Diflucan).
Topical treatments prescribed, on the other hand, may be one of the following: ciclopirox (Loprox, Penlac). It can also be a cream that contains bifonazole/urea, propylene glycol-urea-lactic acid. Other cream options are imidazoles (such as ketoconazole – Nizoral Cream) and allylamines (such as terbinafine – Lamisil Cream).
For more severe infection, the podiatrist may advise having the infected nail to be surgically removed. This will allow the removal of the infection quicker. A new nail will grow in time. Meanwhile, the patient may opt to put on a nail acrylic to protect the nail bed while waiting for the new nail to grow underneath.
Home Remedies. There are those who would rather resort to a more natural form of remedy to treat their nail fungus. Some of these have proven to be effective in treating the condition, including the following:
- Mentholated cream like vapor rub. This study proved that this is an effective treatment method for onychomycosis.
- Tea tree oil
- Baking Soda
- Snakeroot extract
- Eucalyptus oil
Treating nail fungus can be time-consuming. The condition itself can be self-defeating. Those who have it might find the condition to be recurring if the treatment is not effective or if the person is not well aware of how to prevent such nail condition. There are times that one with nail fungus might find it difficult to land a job as well. Hiring officers might think it will affect the effectivity and efficiency of the prospective employee. As the condition is contagious, others may also be infected if an infected person is hired. Such situations may prove to be challenging and demeaning to a person and will definitely affect the infected person’s self-esteem.
Most prescription medications may also have side effects, hence a constant consultation with the specialist is necessary. To ensure that you won’t get the infection, it is best to keep your toenails and fingernails always properly trimmed, clean, and dry. It is best to be in places where cleanliness is maintained and where equipment and tools are always sanitized. You also need to make sure to keep your immune system healthy. It is also best that you keep your nails protected from injury and unnecessary pressure.
Nail Fungus can easily be eradicated if at the onset you will take the necessary steps to kill the fungi. Keeping your body healthy is one of the best ways you can do to ensure that your body’s defense mechanism will be strong enough to ward off the harmful microorganisms that will try sneak in and breed a battalion that can endanger your nails.