Nail fungus infection is a common infection caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. It’s the same group where ringworm and athlete’s foot also belong. Yeasts and molds can also cause nail fungus infections. This kind of infection is medically known as onychomycosis. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is more likely to affect the toenails more than the fingernails. Nail fungus infection is quite common, and it is more prevalent among older people. Fungus is the cause of 50 percent of all nail-related diseases.
The infected nail often shows white, yellow, brown, or orange streaks or patches. When the infection becomes severe, the infected area often gives off a foul smell. The nail will also become crumbly, ragged, thicker, and dull. In some cases, the nail may also lift off the nail bed. Most of the time, those who suffer from it simply don’t like how it looks. The nail also breaks up and falls off, and since it thickens, it is difficult to clip the nail.
Nail disorders may also be caused by other diseases and not only onychomycosis. According to the guidelines provided by the British Association of Dermatologists, it is not possible to determine the disease based solely on the symptoms. Conditions like psoriasis may also result in the symptoms. This is why lab tests which include microscopy and a mycological culture are necessary to look into the fungal elements, making the diagnosis definitive. It is also important to scrape skin debris and specimen samples closest to the infected area to get the best diagnosis.
Treatment and Medication
Nail fungal infections do not heal on their own. They can cause more widespread lesions on the skin. Some people simply cover up the nails with nail polish or fake nails. Doing so will only worsen the condition. For mild cases, it helps to clean the feet daily, make sure they are dry, file down the nails, and apply anti-fungal creams bought over the counter. A mentholated cream like Vicks VapoRub is one of these. Once the nail is deformed, misshapen, and discolored, it’s best to visit your physician. The physician is more likely to prescribe oral antifungal pills along with some topical medicines. Oral antifungal medication is highly prescribed since it can penetrate the nail bed and nail plate and is more effective. The downside to taking oral antifungal pills is that they can cause liver damage. The usual recommendations by physicians include itraconazole, terbinafine, and fluconazole. Treatment often takes six to twelve weeks, but sometimes when the fungus is so persistent it can take up to 78 weeks for a new uninfected nail to grow fully and replace the infected one. When the infection is severe and painful, the doctor usually recommends a nail removal performed in-clinic.
3Chamomile as a Home Remedy
More and more people who suffer from mild symptoms of nail fungal infections resort to a more natural treatment using home remedies. This can be herbs, plants, fruit, seeds, oil, and even kitchen staples that are known to have antifungal properties. One of these home remedies is chamomile, a flowering plant that belongs to the daisy family. It originated in Europe and Western Asia, but it is now found around the world. Chamomile is Greek for earth apple. It earned that name because it slightly smells like an apple. There are two types of chamomile: the German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is the more potent type and more widely used for medicinal purposes.