Fungal nail is an infection that many people face during some phase of their life. Though it is not very serious, it is not very pleasing due to the discomfort it may cause.
The infection generally affects toe nails more than finger nails. Nails become thick, change colour, get distorted or become brittle and crumbly. This infection is termed as onychomycosis.
Symptoms of Nail fungus infections
- Nail discoloration: the nail may turn green, white, yellow or black.
- Nail thickening: nails may become thick and change in texture and shape
- Cause discomfort or pain: When pressure is placed on the finger or toe nail that it infected, you may feel some kind of pain or discomfort.
- Brittleness: Nail becomes crumbly and break or split
- The surrounding skin may sometimes get infected and become itchy, swollen, red or cracked.
How is nail fungus acquired?
Mostly, the fungi which cause athlete’s foot causes nail fungus. These fungi grow in moist and warm conditions. The following are reasons why it may have occurred. Nail fungus may arise if:
- Feet are not dry and clean
- Feet are hot and moist from sweat
- You walk barefoot in public places like gyms, locker rooms, etc. that are prone to infections
- Your nails are damaged
- Your immune system is weak
- You are diabetic, have a disorder of the peripheral artery or have psoriasis
Treatments for nail fungus
For mild infections treatments would not be necessary but it is important to practice good feet hygiene.
For treatment, antifungal tablets, nail paints and kits for nail softening and scraping nails are available at pharmacies. Either one of these three will be recommended by your doctor.
Antifungal tablets are oral tablets that are effective but take a long time to cure. Nail paint is applied on the infected nail and also takes several months to cure but is not as effective as the tablets as the medicine may not completely penetrate through the nail to the infected skin.
Nail softening and scraping may is a much faster method which cures the infection within a few weeks but it may take time for the nail to grow.
There is also a laser treatment which is quite expensive as you may need to undergo several sittings in a year and the effectiveness and possibility of the infection returning is unknown.
In the case of severe infections, the nail is surgically or chemically removed completely which then gradually regrows within a year’s time.
Prevention of nail fungus
- Keep feet and hands dry and clean
- Wear shoes that fit well and use cotton socks so that feet can breathe
- Keep nails short and clean
- Do not share socks or towels and ensure to wash them regularly
- Do not walk barefooted in public showers & locker rooms. Protect feet with shower shoes
- Replace old footwear
- Immediate treatment for athlete’s foot may also help