Onychomycosis is the fungal infection of the nail. This condition—which constitutes about half of all types of nail abnormalities—could affect the fingernails and toenails. When there’s an overgrowth of fungi under or on the nail, the affected area becomes itchy and inflamed.
Signs and Symptom of Fungal Nail Infection
White or yellowish streaks will start developing on the nails, followed by crumbling at the corners. White or yellow flaky spots will start appearing on the nails and pungent odor will emanate on the affected area. Eventually, the nail will start to thicken, become discolored, and crack in places over time. Nail fungal infection—when left untreated—could spread to other parts of the nails and may cause nail loss.
Causes of Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal nail infection is caused by the proliferation of dermatophytes, the same fungi that causes yeast infection, molds, or ringworm. Approximately 10% of adults around the world are afflicted with nail fungal infection and more than 50% of the world’s population will develop this condition before they reach 70 years of age.
The fungi that causes fungal nail infection occurs naturally in the body. In small numbers, this type of fungi is not harmful. However, overgrowth could cause them to multiply, eventually causing skin irritation before progressing to infecting the affected area. Fungal infection of the nail could be caused by a number of things, including:
Recent Fungal Infection
If you’ve had ringworm or athlete’s foot recently and it’s been treated, the nail could still harbor the fungi. The fungi will start using the nail as a reservoir for reinfection. Eventually, there will be an overgrowth of the fungi, this time on the nails.
Dirty Manicure or Pedicure Tools
Did you have your nails done lately? You may have gotten an infection from the dirty manicure tools used on your nails. If the nail tools are not cleaned and disinfected, it could harbor fungi that will cause nail infection.
Contact with an Infected Person
Fungal infections could be passed on from one person to another. That’s why if you have an infection or someone close to you is suffering from fungal infection, make sure you disinfect all the utensils, don’t share shoes, and avoid contact until the infection clears.
Nail fungal infection is easy to treat. However, just like any type of fungal infection, it could come back from time to time if you are not careful. The fungi that causes nail infection thrive in wet, humid environments. It could live in your shoes or live in your bathroom. Nail fungi is resistant to heating and freezing so certain measures have to be done in order to prevent an infection or a re-infection.
Keep your nails short, dry, and clean at all times. Trimming the nails helps minimize the risk of infection. Do not walk barefoot, especially in public places like shower rooms, public swimming pools, etc. Finally, always choose a reputable salon to have your nails done.
Treating Fungal Nail Infection
Topical antifungal creams and ointments help inhibit the proliferation of the nail fungi that causes the infection. When you’re suffering from fungal nail infection, always keep your feet dry and wear socks made from breathable material.