People assume that changes in their toenails or fingernails are due to fungal infection. It is medically referred to as tinea unguium or Onychomycosis. Fungal infection occurring in the nails may be due to poor hygiene or sound contagious. 10% of adults across the globe can be noticed to be suffering from nail fungal infection and looking for remedies. Older adults of 60+ years tend to suffer more from this fungal infection. Compared to fingernail fungus, toenail fungus is considered a common occurrence. Abnormal-looking nails, in reality, might arise due to several conditions, including fungal infection. To get the best treatment, it will be necessary to know the reasons.
What conditions may be mistaken to be fungal nails?
You may suffer from other conditions rather than fungal nails. They are as follows:
- Senile nails: With age, your nails tend to become brittle, developing ridges. The nail layers start to separate at the nail’s end part. This can be prevented by using some solutions. But avoid soaking your nails in water as it may only aggravate your condition and become painful.
- Ridges & Lines: They occur commonly and are normal. Pregnant women may suffer from worse issues. A large groove on the nail’s centre can result from nail-biting. Such changes may also be experienced following chemotherapy.
- Black or Red nails: This can result from blood clotting under the nail due to trauma or hematoma. The discoloured region is likely to grow with the nail. While trimming the nails, they can be trimmed off. If black spots are present under the nail not arising due to trauma, then it will be wise to consult a podiatrist or dermatologist. They will check the affected region thoroughly and diagnose if it is melanoma or not. They will also recommend undergoing a simple biopsy to rule out cancer (malignancy).
- Yellowish or whitish nails: This may be the result of onycholysis. It means nail separation from the nail bed. What colour you get to view beneath the nail is air. Treatment for this issue is to trim your nail short. But avoid cleaning under it. You can polish the unsightly colour and wait for about 2-3 months to hide the unsightly colour. Your nail may be prone to contracting fungal infections due to persistent onycholysis.
- Pitted nails could be related to skin problems or psoriasis, thus affecting the nail matrix. This is the area beneath the skin present behind the nail and from where the nail grows. Psoriasis affected nails may be of a tan colour.
- Green nails: Pseudomonas bacteria may cause this issue. This bacterium grows beneath the nails, separated partially from the nail bed. It may result in some foul odour arising from the nails. It would help if you trimmed your nail short every four weeks to get a remedy. Avoid cleaning it. To hide this ugly colour, you can polish it. Wait for about 2-3 months. Do not soak your nail in water or liquid even after wearing gloves. After bathing, dry your nail thoroughly. If the problem persists, you should consult your doctor to get prescription treatments. The doctor is likely to prescribe antifungal cream for nails like Ketomac.
- Chronic nail trauma may involve repeatedly starting and stopping, athletic endeavours or kicking. This is likely to damage the nails, thus giving the appearance of fungal nails. Such repetitive trauma is experienced by those who wear tight-fitting shoes or are in particular employment. Permanent changes also are experienced by those suffering from traumas, thus mimicking fungal nails.
- Skin appearing red and swollen around the nail: It is referred to as paronychia. This skin infection takes place at the nail (cuticle) bottom part. Bacteria may cause acute (rapid onset) infections. Warm soaks can be soothing. However, it will require a qualified doctor to drain it out. Chronic paronychia may occur if the cuticle gets irritated or inflamed with time. At times, yeast may develop on damaged skin, infecting the region. In such cases, therapy will be essential. The skin is to be kept dry and away from water. If it is a severe problem, you need to consult a good physician. Antibiotics are generally not recommended except to control severe infections.
Causes of fungal nails along with other risk factors
Fungal infections may arise in the nail region in healthy, ordinary people. This is mainly due to fungus contracted from wet, moist areas. Some familiar sources are communal showers like swimming pools or the gym. They are even visiting nail salons that use improper instrument sanitization like foot tubs, fliers, clippers, etc. It may also spread from family members with fungal nails. Athletes also are susceptible to this problem. It can be due to sweaty, tight-fitting shoes related to repetitive toenail trauma. Athletes’ feet may also cause toenail fungal infections. Repetitive trauma is likely to weaken the nail, thus resulting in fungal infection.
People suffering from underlying diseases and the elderly also may contract such issues. Anything which impairs the immune system is likely to get a fungal infection. It includes health conditions like psoriasis, cancer, diabetes, AIDS or taking steroids.
Is the condition contagious?
According to health experts, fungal infection is not contagious, although obtained in some places. Nail fungus is quite common and may be transmitted among people with continuous intimate contact.
Can nail fungus recurrence be avoided?
Tinea pedis is also referred to as foot fungus or athlete’s foot, and it may cause fungal nails recurrence. Hence, this condition should be treated immediately. There are available OTC antifungal medicines, and you can use creams like Ketomac that offer impressive solutions without any side effects.
Tips to avoid fungal nails
Health experts believe that fifty per cent of abnormal appearing nails result from nail fungus. Identifying the difference between varying reasons for discoloured nails can be challenging, including for doctors. Often, Onychomycosis is not treatable. Some reasons for getting treatment include the following:
- For cosmetic purposes
- Discomfort or pain arising in the nails
- Previous leg infection
Some common recurrences and treatment failures
It would help if you always tried to prevent such issues from occurring. A few preventative measures are given below:
- Avoid soaking your hands using harsh cleaners or water.
- Alternate exercise shoes.
- Avoid using no tight shoes and wear only dry socks.
- Keep your feet dry and clean all the time.
- Shorten your toenails. Avoid digging into your nail corner while cutting toenails.
- Get treatment for athlete’s food as and when it occurs.
Home remedies to treat toenail fungus
You can find much anecdotal information on the different home remedies to treat toenail fungus. One commonly recommended remedy is vinegar. To rub your nails, you can also try out different oils like coconut oil, tea tree oil, cedar leaf oil, essential oils, etc. Hydrogen peroxide and household bleach are not recommended for treatment purposes, and such agents might result in unwanted skin irritation on application. Thickened nails affected by fungus might pose to be a problem to trim. You can use the best antifungal nail cream to treat the issue, like Ketomac. You do not have to get a doctor’s prescription to buy one.