Nail fungus starts as a yellow or white spot beneath the tip of your toenail or fingernail. As the fungal contagion goes profound, nail fungus might result in your nail to thicken, discolor, and deteriorate at the periphery. It can have an impact on several nails. If your condition is mild and not troubling you, you may not need treatment. If your nail fungus is aching and has caused hard nails, medications, and self-care steps might assist. But even if treatment is successful, nail fungus frequently comes back.
What causes nail fungus?
Nail fungus, whose formal name is onychomycosis is a lot like an athlete’s foot. But rather than affecting the skin in between your toes or on the bottom of your feet, it attacks your nails. As fungus blooms in warm, dark places, your toenails are more prone to have an impact than your fingernails. Compared to the fingers, the toes also have little blood flow, which makes it difficult to stop an infection. Compared to women, men are at higher risk of developing these fungal infections. Older people or those who have a weak immune system or ongoing health problems such as diabetes are also at higher risk.
Experts say that there are many causes of nail fungus infection such as:
- Wearing shoes that make the feet hot and sweaty
- Unable to keep the feet clean and dry
- Walking in bare feet through locker rooms, gym showers, and swimming pools can also increase the odds of infection.
- In case an individual already has an athlete’s foot, then there is a chance that the fungus can spread to your nails.
Who is at risk for fungal infections?
There are several diverse reasons for nail fungus infections, and every cause has a cure. Even though most of the reasons for a fungal nail infection are avoidable, some risk factors increase the probability of developing it. You are more prone to build up nail fungus if you:
- have a disease that causes poor circulation
- have diabetes
- are over age 65
- swim in a public swimming pool
- wear artificial nails
- have a nail injury
- have damp fingers or toes for an extended time
- have a skin injury around the nail
- wear shoes with closed-toe options
- have a weakened immune system
Nail infections take place more frequently in men than in women, and the infections are found in adults more frequently than in children. If you have family members who frequently get these types of fungal infections, you are more likely to get them as well. Elderly adults are at the maximum risk for getting fungal diseases of the nails as they have inferior circulation and their nails develop more gradually and densely as they age.
A severe case of nail fungus can be aching and might cause lasting damage to your nails. And it may result in other severe infections that extend beyond your feet in case you have a suppressed immune system because of diabetes, medication, or other conditions. If you have diabetes, you may have reduced nerve supply and blood circulation in your feet. You are also at greater risk of a bacterial skin infection. So, any comparatively minor injury to your feet including a nail fungal infection can cause a more serious complication.
Nails that are infected with fungus usually are:
- darker or yellowish
There may be also:
- yellow or white streaking – lateral onychomycosis
- scaling under the nail – hyperkeratosis
- contaminated nails might disconnect from the nail bed – onycholysis
- yellow marks at the base of the nail – proximal onychomycosis
Nail fungal infections can lead to pain in the fingertips or toes, and they may even release a foul odor.
Another symptom related to nail fungus infections are fungus-free skin lesions known as dermatophytes. These may look like itching or rashes in an area of the body that is not contaminated with the fungus – much like an allergic reaction.
How is a fungal nail infection treated?
Over-the-counter products are not usually suggested to treat nail infections as they do not offer reliable results. Rather, your doctor may recommend an oral antifungal medication, such as:
Other antifungal treatments may be prescribed as well, such as topical solutions or antifungal nail lacquer. Based on the kind of fungus causing the infection, as well as the degree of the infection, you may have to use these medications for several months. In harsh cases, your nail may need to be separated so that a strong new one can develop in its area. Physicians can also make use of lasers for nail fungus.
One of the most effective and strongest antifungal creams is Ketomac Cream which is known for curing fungal infections such as nail fungus. This antifungal medication prevents the fungus from growing on the skin. Apart from fungal infections, yeast infections of the skin can also be treated using this cream.
The below-mentioned habits can assist prevent nail fungus:
- Wash your hands and feet thoroughly and regularly. Clean your hands after touching an infected nail. Dampen your nails after washing.
- Always trim nails straight across, even the edges with a file and file down dense areas. After each use, sterilize your nail clippers.
- Change your socks or use sweat-absorbing socks several times throughout the day.
- Select shoes that are breathable.
- Throw away old shoes or care for them with antifungal powders or disinfectants
- Do not use the same towel if anyone in your family has nail fungus. This will spread the infection quickly.
- Select a nail salon that uses clean manicure tools for every customer.
- Wear footwear in locker rooms and pool areas.
- Give up nail polish and artificial nails.
- Keep your fingernails and toenails short and trimmed.
Fungal nail infection, thus, is a curable disease provided the right treatment is given and that too at the right time. You must keep a regular check on the toes, and in case, you find something different like yellow spots or hardened nails, you must consult with the doctor.