A fungal attack and infection that leads to discoloration damage, irritation and pain in and around the nail is called nail fungus. It can happen to anyone but the ones to be easily affected are adult males and the elderly.
Every living being is subjected to fungal presence, even the human body. While there are some fungi that could be beneficial most are harmful. They have a tendency to live and grow on dead tissues and outer ski n layers, rapidly multiple and form infection and pain.
Nail fungus can affect both fingernail and toe nails, though the latter is more affected usually. While a group of fungi called dermatophytes usually cause this infection, it can also be triggered by the presence of yeasts and molds. These microscopic organisms thrive in dark and moist places. If you are constantly in a hot, humid and damp interiors then chances of these mold-like infections forming on your finger and toenails are quite high. If ignored or untreated in time these infections can lead to severe illnesses.
What Causes Nail Fungus
- Use of public swimming pools, showers and gyms and walking barefoot here
- People who are prone to profuse sweating, especially sweaty feet
- Ignoring minor injuries in skin
- Nail injuries like hangnail or an ingrown toenail may lead to this condition
- A nail disease which is not treated in time
- Nail deformity
- Slow nail growth
- Wearing tight fitting and closed footwear all the time which crowds the toes and makes the feet sweaty all the time
- Used blades and tools applied during manicures and pedicures
- Presence of warm, wet or moist skin for too long
- Athlete’s foot may lead to toenail fungus
- Poor blood circulation
- Poor immune system or severe immune disorders like psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease.
- Other conditions that can lead to easy formation of fungus on nails are diabetes, cancer, AIDS, or prolonged steroid use.
- Increasing age
- Unsupervised exercises which lead to repeated injury or trauma to the tips of toenails or fingers
- Humid or moist work environment or living conditions
- Genetic predisposition to nail fungus
The common symptoms of nail fungus are –
- Discoloration of nails
- Thickening of nails
- Crumbling, splitting and breaking of nails
For a healthy person this could just be nail damage, an ugly and unseemly part of the body but with no long term or severe side effects if taken care of in time.
But if ignored it could lead to permanent damage and severe pain. And if you are suffering from serious immune disorders then this infection could spread from the nails to other parts of the body as well, leading to serious health risks. Severe nail fungus makes it difficult to walk or stand, wear shoes for a long time and severely hamper movement.
Treating nail fungus
Nail fungus can be hard to treat, even the least harmful ones. You could opt for specialized treatment, home remedies as well as OTC medications which include topical lotions, medicated gels and antifungal creams. Covering the damaged nail polish works with women but then they are the ones to least affected by this condition.
Most of these infections take a long time to heal and go away. And even if they do they are highly prone to recur, especially in the elderly and those who suffer from serious and weakened immune conditions. The best way to heal would be to make the immune system stronger. Various home remedies and improved diet can go a long away to do this.
Healthcare providers can do a culture of the skin, study it under a microscope and do a liver test to gauge how strong or weak your system is. Once these are determined and the condition properly diagnosed you will be prescribed medications on nail fungus treatment for at least 2-3 months.