Fungal Nail Infection: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Fungal nail infection also referred to as onychomycosis, is a condition that affects the fingernails and toilnails.

This is usually caused by cuts or other openings on the skin surrounding the nail. People with mild symptoms may not require treatment, but you should consider consulting your GP if you are experiencing pain or any other uncomfortable symptoms.

As the infection progresses, the affected persons are likely to show symptoms like:

  • Nail discolouration- may turn yellow, white or green

  • Nail distortion and change of texture

  • Pain especially when pressure is applied on affected finger or toe

  • Crumbly nails that may break off

Causes of fungal nail infection

The infection is caused by various types of fungus, yeasts and molds. Since fungi thrive best in warm and moist places, the condition can easily affect people who walk barefoot around swimming pools and public showers. The condition can also be spread through sharing of personal stuff like nail clippers, tools used in manicure or pedicure and towels among others.

There are some health problems that put people at higher risks of fungal nail infection including diabetes, psoriasis, poor blood circulation, nail injuries and weak immune system. Other risk factors include living in humid conditions and keeping hands in water frequently.

Diagnosis and treatment

In some cases, the infection is accompanied by mild symptoms, and these can disappear without treatment. However, you should consult your medical practitioner if you are experiencing severe symptoms like pain or crumbly nails. It is also important to seek medical attention if you are suspecting the nail infection to be caused by an underlying health problem.

The doctor can diagnose the condition by checking your medical history and examining the affected nails. Lab tests may also be necessary to rule out other possible infections. Depending on the fungus linked to the infection, your GP can prescribe medications like terbinafine or Itraconazole tablets. There are also other options that can be recommended including:

  • Antifungal nail paint- nail lacquer that treats fungal infection

  • Nail removal- done where other treatments do not work

  • Softening kits- softens nails for removal using scraping device

  • Laser treatment

After successful treatment, it can take a couple of weeks for the infected part to grow out and a healthy nail to develop. You should do a follow up with your doctor if you do not notice any improvements.

There are some measures that you can also take to manage fungal nail infection including keeping short nails, avoiding injuries or irritants that can trigger infections, keeping the hands or feet dry and using separate nail clippers or scissors for infected nails.

Preventing the infection

Although you can’t fully avoid getting onychomycosis, you can lower risks of getting the infection by wearing footwear like flip-flops when in public areas such as locker rooms and shower rooms, avoiding sharing of personal items like towels, drying your feet properly, using antifungal sprays and relying on trustworthy salons for pedicures or manicures. View publisher site.

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