About 50 percent of nail abnormalities are caused by nail fungal infections. These are the most common ailments of the nails. Other names for this infection are onychomycosis and tinea unguium. Fungus is normally present in the body, but it can cause problems when it overgrows. Both fingernails and toenails are highly susceptible to nail fungal infections.
There are common indications if you have a nail fungal infection, which may affect one or more of your nails. These include thickened nails, whitish to yellow-brownish discoloration which often starts as a streak on the nail, the nail has a distorted shape, the nail is brittle, crumbly, and ragged, a dark color caused by debris collecting under the nail, and a foul odor from the infected nail.
Various fungal organisms like fungi cause nail fungus infections. The most common is the group called dermatophytes. Yeasts and molds may also cause nail fungal infections. This type of infection can grow in people of any age. However, it is more prevalent among older adults. As the person ages, his or her nails become dry and brittle which causes some cracks to appear. These cracks serve as an entrance for the fungus. There are other factors that contribute to the infection such as reduced blood circulation to the lower limbs or a weakened immune system. Toenail fungal infection may start from an athlete’s foot then spread into one nail and another.
Some factors may contribute to the spread of the fungus. These include profuse sweating, having athlete’s foot, having a nail injury, a skin condition like psoriasis, aging, reduced blood flow to the feet, more exposure to fungus and nails that grow slowly, as well as walking barefoot in warm and moist environments like those in swimming pools, shower rooms, and gymnasiums.
It takes time to treat a toenail fungus infection, and it can be expensive. You have several options for nail fungus treatment such as prescription-based oral antifungal medications, topical treatments, and alternative treatments. You can also use over-the-counter creams and ointments, even if they may not be as effective as the other types of treatments. The usual antifungal pills prescribed by the doctors are the following: itraconazole (Sporanox), terbinafine (Lamisil), and itraconazole (Sporanox). Usually, the treatment will last for at least four months for the fresh new nail to replace the infected nail. In some cases, the doctor may recommend a complete nail removal through minor surgery. Laser surgery is also an option.