Some people are blessed with healthy nails. However, infection-causing microorganisms such as fungi are everywhere, and our nails are the most frequently affected. Onychomycosis or nail fungus in simpler terms is a fungal infection of one or more fingernails. Nail fungus occur more often at the toenails compared with the fingernails. This infection occurs when a type of fungus that belongs to a group of fungi called dermatophytes dwell in an individual’s nail. Most of these organisms do not depend on sunlight for survival; instead, they depend on a warm, dark, environment to live such as swimming pools and showers.
Thickened, brittle, crumbled, yellow, gray, brownish or black-colored nails that lack in luster are symptoms of nail fungus. Symptoms also include distortion in shape of the nails.
Nail fungus are sometimes difficult to treat. Over-the-counter nail polishes, creams and ointments might come in handy; however it will not guarantee superior recovery. If athlete’s foot comes with the nail fungus, the athlete’s foot should be treated as well, and disinfected to prevent any recurrence of toenail fungi.
If ever you have any history of cellulitis or diabetes, or if you are experiencing discomfort with your nail infection, oral medications might be convenient as well as effective for you. Some of the said oral anti fungal medications include terbinafine and itraconazole. However, these oral fingernail and toenail fungus treatments have side effects such as skin rashes and liver damage. Also, other people with congestive heart failure and liver disease and taking certain medications may not be recommended with these medications. An individual diagnosed with fingernail or toenail fungi usually takes one or both of the said medicines for six to 12 weeks and effects can be visible until a year after continuous medication, when the infected nails are replaced with new healthy ones.
Fingernail or toenail fungus may also include Antifungal lacquer, where a anti-fungal nail polishes called ciclopirox or amorolfine will be prescribed for the patient. The ciclopirox or amorolfine must be applied on the surface of the infected area and its surrounding skin once a day. Repeat this for seven days, then the piled-on layers must be wiped clean using alcohol and begin fresh applications. Making this a habit year-long has been proven to heal most cases of nail fungus. This type of medication is recommended mostly for mild to moderate cases.
For extremely painful cases, a surgery will aid your dilemma. In the said surgery, they will extract thenail that has been infected and wait for a new one to grow within a year. Sometimes, this surgery uses ciclopirox to disinfect the nail bed. Another type of surgery includes laser or photodynamic therapy. This therapy uses intense infrared light to irradiate the nail after an acid treatment. However, this surgery is available only in specific places.
Keeping your hands, feet and shoes clean and dry as well as reductions of exposure or use of swimming pools and showers will prevent the growth of fungi in your fingers, and therefore, preventing nail fungus.