Nail fungus(Onychomycosis) – Types, Symptoms and Causes

You Need to Know all About Nail fungus

Nail fungus also known as onychomycosis, ringworm of the nail and tinea unguium. It is a fungal infection that gets under the fingernails or toenails.
A nail fungus infection is a common ailment that makes up about 50 percent of all nail abnormalities and problems.

The onychomycosis condition affects between 6 and 8 percent of adults. In recent years, women have experienced a higher rate of infection due to the popularity of nail salons.

Locating a solution for your nail fungus problems does not need to be difficult. If you take the time to learn about the types of nail fungus,

What causes nail fungus?

How to treat Onychomycosis?

How to prevent it from returning.

Nail Gross Anatomy

There are four main parts of a nail:

  1. The matrix
  2. Nail bed
  3. Matrix grooves
  4. Nail plate

The matrix is the bottom-most layer of the nail and is responsible for producing nail cells. The nail bed is the skin beneath the visible part of the nail or “nail plate”.

Matrix grooves are barely visible grooves in the nail that allow for the top layer of nail-bed skin to move forward when the nail plate grows. The visible part of the nail is made of keratin, a strong, translucent protein.

Risk Factors for Nail Fungus

  • older people
  • people who perspire a great deal, especially if your hands or feet perspire
  • who already suffer from other skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema
  • have wear shoes that are too tight
  • people who do not allow their feet to breathe
  • people who walk around barefoot in public showers, locker rooms and at swimming pools
  • have athlete’s foot
  •  have an injured nail
  • people with poor circulation
  • people with a compromised immune system

What are common kinds of nail fungus?

  1. Distal subungual onychomycosis
  2. White superficial onychomycosis (WSO)
  3. Proximal subungual onychomycosis
  4. Candidal onychomycosis

Just as there are four main parts of a nail, there are four common types of nail fungi conditions. Distal subungual onychomycosis is the most common type and affects the underside of the nail plate.

White superficial onychomycosis (WSO) is marked by “white islands” on the nail plate and is often confused with another type of nail condition caused by certain nail polishes.

Proximal subungual onychomycosis occurs when the fungus appears in the grooves of a newly formed nail plate. It’s most common amongst those with circulation and immune deficiencies.

Usually only present in those who have experienced prior nail damage or spend a lot of time working with water.

Candidal onychomycosis is the fourth type of nail fungus. It differs from the others because the fungus genus is slightly different.

Signs and Symptoms of Nail Fungus Infection

A nail fungus infection can be very unsightly. Toenail fungus infections can make its sufferers leery to go barefoot or wear sandals. It can sometimes be difficult to know if you have a nail fungus infection until it is full-blown, causing the sufferer to feel uneasy about it.

There are some signs that you should be aware of when it comes to a nail fungus infection because the earlier to begin treatment the better your odds of curing it are.

  • The nail to thicken and become yellow
  • Nail look dark and often crumpled
  • It starts out looking like a white or yellow spot on the toenail or fingernail
  • Nail may start to crumble or flake off around the edges
  • Brittle nails
  • If your nail is detaching from its base or becoming deformed in its shape are also signs of a nail fungus infection.

How is a fungal nail infection treated?

It is hard to treat nail fungus effectively as the nail grows so slowly. The
infection can last as long as it takes a nail to grow out. If you can catch the infection early on. It is much easier to treat and will heal faster.

Many doctors prescribe strong oral anti-fungal medications, such as

  • terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • and itraconazole (Sporanox)

These drugs, while effective, can be toxic to the liver and have to be taken for a long time to be effective, so come with the potential side effects of liver damage, and skin rashes.

People who have heart or liver conditions should not take these medications. Nor should people taking certain other medications. Even after taking oral anti fungal, the entire process of healing from nail fungus can be long and frustrating.

It takes up to 9 months for a healthy nail to fully replace the damaged ones. The risk of re-infection is always there.

Do I Have to Take a Prescription Medication?

If your case of nail fungus is mild or caught early on. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal nail lacquer. Similar to applying nail polish, known as ciclopirox (commercial name, Penlac).

Some people find that this clears the infection right up, while others find that it irritates the skin around the nail and never penetrates deep enough to encounter and kill the nail fungus.

Your doctor may grind down or file off some of the infected toenails to allow the medication to absorb properly. Some doctors choose to have their patients use both an oral and topical medication to clear up the infection.

How to Prevent  Nail Fungus?

Tips to Prevent Nail Fungus Infection

The best idea is to avoid getting nail fungus to begin with. Here are some suggestions to follow:

  • As nail fungus breeds in dark, damp, places, keeping your hands and feet dry as much as possible is a good idea. Expose your hands and feet to light and clean fresh air as often as you can.
    • Keep a spare pair of socks available so that if you get your current ones wet, you can change them out for a dry pair. Change your socks and shoes after exercising or if your feet sweat a great deal.
    • Never wear overly tight shoes
    • Wear sandals or flip flops when spending time in wet public places, such as public pools, locker rooms or public showers.
    • Keep your nails neatly trimmed
    • Consider bringing your tools when you go for a manicure or pedicure. This may seem awkward, but it does ensure that the tools being used on your body are sterilized.
    • Alternately, confirm that your salon sterilizes its instruments and practices good hygiene.
    • Ask your nail technician to please clean the basin with bleach before putting your hands or feet into it.