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Nail Fungus: Information, Prevention and Treatment

  • Published: 2009-02-28 (Revised/Updated 2018-03-23) : Author: Disabled World : Contact: disabled-world
  • Synopsis: Information regarding fingernail and toenail fungus (Onychomycosis) including causes, prevention methods, and ways to cure unsightly yellow and brittle nails.

Onychomycosis, also known as tinea unguium, is a fungal infection of the nail. Onychomycosis may affect toenails or fingernails, but toenail infections are particularly common. Common symptoms of nail fungus infections include; the finger, or toenail, becoming thickened and discoloured such as; white, black, yellowish or green. As the nailfungus infection progresses the toenail(s) usually become quite brittle, with pieces breaking off the toenail or fingernail completely. If left untreated, the skin underneath and around the nails can become inflamed and painful. Symptoms can also include white or yellow colored patches on the actual nailbed or scaly skin near to the nail, and/or a foul odor from the nail(s).

Main Document

"A number of risk factors are known to increase the likelihood of developing toenail fungus, including age, a family history of the infection, smoking, heavy perspiration, etc."

What is Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus, also known as Onychomycosis, is an organism which digests the keratin found in your fingernails and toenails. Onychia is an inflammation of the matrix (surrounding tissue) of the nail with formation of pus and shedding of the nail.

Fingernails and toenails are naturally built to be strong barriers, and resistant to fungi and other infections. However, because of how strong this barrier is, once the infection is present, it is sometimes very difficult to eliminate. Nail fungus is not the same as ingrown toenails.

How Can I Prevent Nail Fungus?

One of the most important steps in preventing nail infections is to keep nails well trimmed, but not over trimming them. Cutting the nail too short can cause small cuts and tears, which could allow fungal organisms to penetrate your nail bed.

To prevent toenail fungal infections, keep your feet as dry and clean as possible at all times. Change socks and shoes frequently. If you have athlete's foot, treat it regularly. Athlete's foot is a fungus which can spread to your toenails. Do not share nail clippers with anyone else, as it is possible to transmit the fungus.

Toenail fungus on right foot big toe
About This Image: Toenail fungus on right foot big toe

How Common is Nail Fungus?

No one knows for sure, but experts estimate that 30-35 million Americans are affected by this condition.

Because nail fungus can affect the toenails' appearance, they are rather unsightly for an untrained eye. Usually people first discover the infection because of the nail discoloration.

Nails may turn green or yellow or a darken color - (See our article on nail conditions and colors.)

Other rather common nail fungus symptoms may be:

How Can I Cure My Nail Infection?

There are two primary methods of treating nail fungus.

One home remedy that has been very successful in getting rid of nail fungus is the Vinegar Cure For Toe Nail Fungus method.

If you suspect that you have a fungal nail infection, you should see your doctor or dermatologist. Your doctor will do a test to tell if you do have a fungal nail infection, and if you do, make a recommendation on treatment options.

The earlier that an infection is detected, the easier it will be to treat.

Toenail fungus can be a very painful occurrence and, if left untreated, can become a dangerous one as well. A number of risk factors are known to increase the likelihood of developing toenail fungus, including age, a family history of the infection, smoking, heavy perspiration, etc. In addition, a humid or moist environment may also cause bacteria to form and may be a leading cause for toenail fungus, as is uncomfortable socks or shoes, walking barefoot, etc. Anyone with diabetes, circulatory problems and a weak immune system may be at greater risk for developing toenail fungus.

In order to prevent toenail fungus, it is important to understand what causes it.

Anyone who wants to avoid having to watch for a toenail fungus symptom can best accomplish this by taking preventative steps toward making sure the bacteria never appears in the first place. In order to prevent toenail fungus, individuals should keep their toenails and fingernails short and clean. This will eliminate the ability for bacteria to grow and worsen. Keeping nails dry will also help to hinder the occurrence of toenail fungus.

Anyone who visits a salon should also be aware that bacteria are easily transmitted on nail treatment products. In order to avoid having this happen, the salon must take extra care to clean all of their equipment before using it on another customer.

If toenail fungus is suspected, there are several symptoms that can help to diagnose the condition early so that an effective treatment program may begin. Among the symptoms, a white or yellow discoloration underneath the tip of the nail, a thickening or crumbling of the nail, etc. The discoloration is due to the bacteria that is forming and cannot be overlooked.

If left untreated, toenail fungus can lead to a more serious infection and may spread to other nails. This ailment is especially dangerous to anyone who suffers from diabetes, but can pose a serious danger to anyone who does not seek proper treatment. In addition, toenail fungus may cause permanent nail damage.

Nail fungus is responsible for approximately half of all nail disorders and, because it can be difficult to treat, the best way to treat the ailment effectively is to detect it early. Another common toenail fungus symptom is a nail that has become distorted in its shape. If it seems to be dull or lacking luster, this is also a toenail fungus symptom. An unpleasant odor and pain in the nail area are discomforts that are often a very definitive toenail fungus symptom.

If any of these signs are present, or the condition worsens, a physician should be contacted in order to gain a proper assessment of the infection and how to treat it most effectively.

Being a Clone of Itself May Make Toenail Fungus Vulnerable to New Treatments - Recent news from a Duke University study revealed the fungus that causes athlete's foot and other skin and toenail infections may have lost its ability to sexually reproduce as it adapted to grow on its human hosts.

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