Commonly observed nail fungus is annoying both for health and cosmetic reasons. Nail fungi can spread to many nails as well as can be seen in a single nail, causing discoloration, thickening, or fragmentation of the edges of the nails. In this article, we have compiled what you wonder about it and its treatments.
What is nail fungus?
İt is a common condition that begins as a yellow or white spot just below the nail tip. In mild cases, nail fungus may not bother people and require treatment. However, in some cases, nail fungus causes painful and thick nails. Nail fungus is also called onychomycosis or tinea unguium.
What are the symptoms of nail fungus?
Nail fungus observed on nails;
- Thickened tissue
- White-yellow or brown discoloration
- The crumbly or irregular structure
- Light fragrance
- It manifests itself with symptoms such as.
Toenail fungus is a more common condition than hand nail fungus.
When to see a doctor because of nail fungus?
In cases where the treatments you can apply yourself for nail fungus do not work, you can see a doctor if the nail gradually changes color, thickens, or deforms. Also, if you have diabetes and think you develop nail fungus, you should see a qualified doctor.
What causes nail fungus?
Fungal nail infections are caused by various organisms called fungi. Apart from this, yeast and mold can also cause nail infections.
Although fungal infection of the nails can be observed in people of all ages, it is more common in older adults. As the nail ages, it has a brittle and dry texture. Dry texture causes the nails to crack and fungi enter and settle in these cracks more easily. Another reason why nail fungus is observed more in old age is the factors such as decreased blood circulation in the feet and weakening of the immune system.
Toenail fungal infections can sometimes start on the foot and spread to the nails. It is very rare to get an infection from someone else.
What are the risk factors for developing nail fungus?
Factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus include:
- Older age (for the reasons mentioned above, more years of exposure to fungi, and having slower-growing nails)
- Excessive sweating
- A history of athlete’s foot
- Walking barefoot in damp, public areas such as swimming pools, gyms, and showers
- Have minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition such as psoriasis
- Having diabetes, circulation problems, or a weakened immune system
Are there any complications of nail fungus?
A serious case of nail fungus can cause painful and permanent damage to nails. Having a suppressed immune system due to medication, diabetes, or other conditions can lead to other serious infections that spread from the feet to other places.
In patients with uncontrolled diabetes, blood circulation and nerve network in the feet may be affected. Also, the risk of bacterial skin infections is higher. Therefore, minor injuries to the feet, including nail fungal infection, in such patients can lead to a more serious complication. If you have diabetes and think you develop nail fungus, contact a healthcare provider right away.
Can nail fungus be prevented?
The following habits can help prevent nail fungus, repeated fungal infections, or athlete’s foot:
- Washing hands and feet regularly: Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. After washing, moisten your nails.
- Trim nails straight: After trimming the nails, trim the edges with a nail file and thin out thickened areas. Disinfect your file with nail clippers after each use.
- To prevent sweating of the feet: Wear sweat-absorbent socks or, if possible, change your socks by carrying spare socks. Choose shoes made from breathable materials.
- Paying attention to common areas: Wear slippers in pool areas and locker rooms. Choose a nail salon that uses sterilized manicure tools for every client.
- Paying attention to the products you use: Avoid using nail polish, nail polish, and artificial nails.
How is nail fungus diagnosed?
Nail fungi are easily detected by physicians during the examination. Sometimes, physicians may want to determine the type of fungus causing the infection. Therefore, a piece of nail is taken and sent to the laboratory for testing.
Other conditions, such as psoriasis, sometimes appear like a nail fungal infection. Apart from this, microorganisms such as bacteria can also infect nails.
Knowing the cause of the infection is an important step in determining the best treatment.
How to treat nail fungus?
Nail fungal infections can be difficult to treat. If personal care strategies and over-the-counter products have not helped, a physician should be consulted. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the type of fungus causing it. It may take months to see the results, and even if the heals, re-infections can be observed.
Nail fungus treatment drugs
For these conditions, physicians usually prescribe antifungal medications that are taken orally or applied to the nail. In some cases, oral and topical antifungal treatments are used together.
Oral antifungal medications: These medications are often the first choice for treatment because they clear the infection faster than topical medications. For this purpose, active ingredient drugs such as terbinafine and itraconazole may be prescribed. These medications help cleanse a new nail from infection while allowing the infected part to change slowly.
Oral antifungal medications are usually used to treat nail fungus for 6 to 12 weeks. However, the result of the treatment may not be observed until the nail is fully grown. It may take four months or more to eradicate infection.
Since oral antifungal drugs can cause many serious side effects, regular blood tests may be required when using these types of drugs.
Medicated nail polish: An antifungal nail polish called Cyclopirox is another option in treatment. This nail polish is applied to infected nails and surrounding tissue once a day. After seven days, all applied layers are cleaned with alcohol and re-applied. These types of nail polishes may need to be used daily for almost a year.
Medicated nail cream: Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream applied to the nails. These types of creams work better when the nails are thinned. The physician may recommend a lotion containing urea to thin the nails or apply with a nail file or a similar special tool.
In some special cases, the physician may recommend removing the nail temporarily to apply the antifungal medication directly to the infection under the nail. Some serious nail fungus infections do not respond to medications. If the infection is severe or extremely painful, permanent nail removal may be recommended.
What is good for nail fungus?
There are some applications especially for the treatment of toenail fungus, which is the most common:
You can try over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments: If you notice white spots on the surfaces of the nails; File it, soak your nails in water, dry, and apply a medicated cream or lotion.
Trim and slim nails: This application helps reduce pain by reducing pressure on the nails. Also, if you do this before administering an antifungal, the medicine can reach the deeper layers of the nail.
Get regular foot care: If you have a condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet and you are unable to cut your nails, consult a foot health center regularly to correct your nails.
We wish you healthy days.