Just thinking about nail fungus can make anyone cringe. Many people try to avoid this condition because it is so undesirable. Although the majority of people know about nail fungus, they don’t know how to treat it. Read on to know everything about nail fungus.
What is nail fungus?
Nail fungus, a common condition, begins under your toenail or fingernail tip as a yellow or white spot. Over time, the nail fungus will go deeper into your nail, which can cause thickening, discolouration, and crumbling at the nail edges. Treatment may not be required if it is not a severe case of nail fungus or is not bothering you much. Medication and self-care will help you if your nails have become thick and painful due to the fungus. There are chances of nail fungus returning even after it has been treated successfully. Onychomycosis is another name for nail fungus. It is also known as athlete’s foot when a fungus infects the skin between the toes.
What are the causes of nail fungus?
There are various causes of nail fungus. Some of the common causes are stated below.
- Injury: Injuries like blunt force trauma to the nail can result in damage. This damage can lift the nail, making the nail bed more vulnerable to bacteria attack, entry by dermatophytes, and many other germs. Nail trauma can be a result of dropping something heavy on your foot or stubbing your toe. Something as simple as this can cause nail fungus; therefore, it is better to be careful at all times.
- Moisture: Bacteria and Dermatophytes often thrive and live in moist and warm environments. This type of environment gets ideally created inside closed shoes. This happens especially in the summer season. This is the reason toenails are more likely to get nail fungus as compared to fingernails.
- Shoes and socks: It is essential always to wear fresh and clean socks made of a breathable material to prevent the growth of bacteria. Moreover, try not to wear old shoes for a very long time. If you are looking for breathable shoes, then mesh shoes will be a great option. During the summer season, try to wear open-toed shoes and sandals so that your feet get sufficient air.
- Manicures and Pedicures: Try to avoid salons that do not follow the standard sanitation process. Instruments and equipment such as clippers, nail files, cuticle cutters etc., that are used during manicure and pedicure should be thoroughly washed and cleaned by the professional. They should wash these tools with the help of antibacterial soap and then soak them in a fungicidal solution to properly disinfect them before they can be used on another customer. This disinfecting procedure should be carried on for the recommended time to ensure that all types of bacteria or fungi are killed. Many reputable salons and spas use disposable instruments that are discarded after using them on one customer. This is done to prevent the spread of nail fungus from one client to another. To be on the safer side, you can look for a certificate of health inspection before going in with the process.
What are the signs and symptoms of nail fungus?
- The primary symptom of nail fungus is a part of your infected nail turning yellow, white, brown, or any other colour. At the initial stage of the infection, all you will see is a spot of discolouration in your nail. But if this is left unattended, the discolouration will spread to the entire nail and eventually to other nails.
- Another sign of nail fungus is the building up of debris under your nails.
- The nail will turn white, and the nail surface may feel dry, soft, or powdery. There are chances that your nail might become thinner than before.
- In some cases, the nail might become thick and turn brown or yellow.
- Lastly, if your nail is infected, then it will easily split and crumble.
How can nail fungus be treated?
After you have noticed signs of fungus, it is essential to get treatment from a certified dermatologist. The condition can become more severe and potentially painful if it is not treated promptly. To treat the infection, you can trim the infected nail and send it for histologic examination. Mild infections can be treated with topical medication. These medications keep the fungus under control until the nail heals. Although these topicals are very safe, they have lower efficacy as compared to oral medications. Antifungal pills may be required for more severe cases. Side effects are rare for most medications. The typical treatment could last anywhere from one to three months. If your nail fungus is still in the initial stages and you want to treat it at home, then you can go for the following home remedies for your fingernail fungus treatment.
- Tea tree oil:
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil that possesses antiseptic and antifungal properties. This ingredient is considered to be an effective treatment against toenail fungus. It can be used with the help of a cotton swab. Dip a cotton ball in tea tree oil and apply it to the affected area twice every day.
- Apple cider vinegar:
Since apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can most likely prevent the spread of nail fungus. You can use it by mixing ACV with water in equal measurement and soaking your nails in that solution for at least 30 minutes. Try to do this every day. After soaking your nails, dry them thoroughly. If you do this regularly, you will surely see a difference. Another way of using ACV is making it into an antifungal scrub. For that, you have to take coarsely ground rice flour and add a few spoons of ACV to it until you get a scrub-like consistency. Use this scrub on the infected nail.
- Olive leaf extract:
Olive leaf extract is effective against nail fungus and its symptoms. It is, therefore, a natural antibiotic that can fight almost all types of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungus. Olive leaf extract can also be used to treat fungus issues such as Candida and tinea. Because of its antifungal properties, it is an excellent choice for treating fungus on fingernails and toenails. It will remove the fungus from your nails, detoxify your body, and make you less likely to get common illnesses like flu or colds. You can apply olive leaf extract directly to infected areas, or some even consume it orally in the form of capsules.
- Hydrogen peroxide:
This treatment for fungal infection is very effective. You have to use 3% hydrogen peroxide for this treatment as stronger ones can irritate your skin. All you need to do is wash your nails properly. Apply a few drops of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton pad and hold it on the infected nail. After around 5 minutes, dry your nails using another cotton pad. Do this process at least 3 to 4 times per day.
Apart from these home remedies, several nail cream fungal infection options are available on the market that can be used. But you must consult your doctor before using a prescription-strength product.
Ketomac cream is a highly effective product and can be used for nail fungus treatment as it contains Ketoconazole which kills yeasts and fungi.