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Fungal Nail Infection

Fungal nail infections, also known as onychomycosis, are an infection that affects the nails of both fingers and toes. The infection happens when fungi, begin to overgrow in the nail. This can cause the nail to become brittle, discolored, and thickened and can lead to other complications if left untreated.

Why do Fungal Nail Infections develop?

Fungal nail infections develop when fungi overgrow on, under, or around the nail due to warm, moist environments. The same fungi causing jock itch, athlete’s foot, or ringworm can lead to nail infections. This can lead to infection and subsequent nail damage

Factors such as poor foot hygiene and nail trauma can also contribute to the development of fungal nail infections.

Contact with infected individuals or contaminated tools, especially in nail salons, can also spread fungal infections easily.

Causes of Fungal Nail Infections

Fungal nail infections are caused by various types of fungi. The most frequent type is dermatophyte. Bacteria, yeast, and mold can all cause nail infections. A bacterial infection causes discoloration, which is usually green or black.

These fungi thrive in moist, warm environments, such as gyms, showers, and swimming pools. They can enter the nail through separations in the nail bed, cuts, or through the skin around the nail.

People are more at risk of developing fungal nail infections if they:

  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a history of athlete’s foot
  • Have a nail injury
  • Wear tight-fitting shoes or artificial nails
  • Have poor circulation

Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infections

Fungus-infected nails are typically:

·      Brittle

·      Thickened

·      Dull

·      Crumbly

·      Distorted

·      Ragged

·      dark or yellowish in hues

There may also be:

·      Scaling under the nail.

·      Separated or detached from the nail bed.

·      Has yellow or white streaks indicated.

·      Has a foul odor.

Fungal nail infections can affect both fingernails and toenails. However, they are more common in toenails. The infection can affect one or more nails, and it can spread to other nails if left untreated.

Treatment of Fungal Nail Infections

Treating nail fungal infections can be a lengthy and costly process.

Mild infections may be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams, gels, or nail polish. More severe infections may require prescription oral antifungal medications, such as:

·      Terbinafine

·      Itraconazole

·      Fluconazole.

It can take up to four months to completely replace the diseased nail with an uninfected nail.

In some cases, the infected nail may need to be removed to allow the new nail to grow in. This procedure is usually performed by a podiatrist or dermatologist.

Prevention of Fungal Nail Infections

Preventing fungal nail infections involves keeping the nails clean and dry, and avoiding exposure to fungi. Here are some tips to prevent fungal nail infections:

  • Keep your nails short and clean.
  • Wear breathable shoes and socks.
  • Dry your feet thoroughly after showering or bathing.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like showers, gyms, and swimming pools
  • Avoid using artificial nails or nail polish for extended periods.
  • Use antifungal powder or spray in your shoes.
  • Practice good hygiene and avoid sharing nail clippers or other nail tools.