Nail fungus also called onychomycosis or tinea unguium is a nail fungal infection that affects the fingernails and toenails. This condition occurs in 10 percent of adults in the US alone. It occurs in toenails more than the fingernails.
Nail fungal infections are of different types. It depends on the kind of microorganism that causes it. Nail infections are often caused by a type of parasitic fungi called dermatophyte.
The primary symptoms of a nail fungal infection include the following: broken and brittle nails, discolored and distorted nails, thickened and flaky nails, nails that are lifted off the nail bed and painful as well, and too hard or too soft nails, and sometimes a foul odor may come from the infected nail.
Several conditions and habits may trigger a nail fungal infection. These include having diabetes, a blood circulation disorder, or a weak immune system, wearing tight shoes or socks and using artificial nails and nail polish too often, walking barefoot in damp public areas like swimming pools, and sharing personal items like nail clippers and towels.
The most effective nail fungus treatment is only possible after a clinical diagnosis. This requires a nail clipping to be sent to a lab to determine the microorganism that caused the infection. The most effective treatment for nail infection is the use of prescription-based oral antifungals. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe a topical antifungal as an alternative. These antifungals have to be taken or used for several weeks to a year. If the nail infection tends to be stubborn and persistent, nail removal may be recommended. Another type of treatment is laser therapy which is a painless treatment although a bit more expensive.
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