Fungal Nail Infection
What is it?
Fungal Nail Infection, known medically as Onychomycosis, is a contagious infection of the toe nails. It is the most common disease of the toe nails accounting for about half of all nail abnormalities. It occurs in about 10% of the adult population. Typically, minor trauma to the nail allows the fungus to enter the nail which then grows and spreads in the warm and moist environment inside socks and shoes. The most common symptoms of fungal nail include thickening and discoloration of the nail to a white, black, yellow or green colour. The infection causes the nail to become brittle causing parts of the nail to come away or break off. In more severe cases the nail can be lost. Generally, there is not pain associated with Onychomycosis; however, as the shape of the nail is often changed, this can cause secondary nail problems which can become painful.
4 Life Podiatry
It is important to know that Onychomycosis is not a cosmetic problem. It is a fungal infection and required appropriate treatment to ensure the integrity of the nail is maintained. Correct diagnosis is very important to ensure appropriate treatment. Some common forms of Onychomycosis is our area includes:
- Distal Subungual Onychomycosis is the most common form of fungal nail which affects the nail bed and underside of the nail from the tips down. These infections are often yellow or brown in colour.
- White Superficial Onychomycosis affects the outer most surface of the nail and appears as white spots.
- Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis affects the new nail growth at the beginning of the nail and is typically associated with other health problems. This is the least common type of Fungal Nail.
- Candidal Onychomycosis often occurs in people who frequently immerse their feet in water.
There are also a number of other conditions that can appear similar to fungal nail including nail psoriasis, contact dermatitis, trauma, lichen planus, nail bed tumour or yellow nail syndrome.
Fungal Nail will not go away on its own. Our Podiatrists will assess your condition and prescribe effective treatments for all types of fungal nail infections. This often includes thinning down the thickened nail followed by the use of special solutions to kill the fungus.
Prevention & Home Management Strategies
When it comes to Fungal Nail (Onychomycosis) prevention is better than the cure. Factors that can contribute to the development Onychomycosis includes:
- Trauma to the nail or nail bed, allows fungus access to the nail
- Abnormal pH level of the skin
- Not drying the feet thoroughly after bathing, shower or swimming
- Wearing tight shoes that can cause splintering of the nail
- Wearing shoes and socks that do not allow the foot to “breathe” – opt for natural fibres rather than synthetic materials.
- Heavy Perspiration
- Other medical conditions that increase the risk of fungal nail include diabetes, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, circulatory problems or a weakened immune system.
Whilst the above is useful in trying to prevent Fungal Nail, it is important to remember that this condition will not go away on its own, so please seek an appointment with our Podiatrists if you notice any signs.