Nail fungus - what is the disease and what causes it?
Nail mycosis is a problem affecting a large part of the population. It is estimated that this is one of the most common nail diseases. Both toenail and hand nail mycoses are diagnosed. However, it more often concerns toenails on legs. Typical symptoms are thickening and cracking of the nail plate.
The disease is caused by three different types of fungi:
- yeast-like fungi (Candida species),
- mould fungi.
It is easy to get infected with fungal infections of feet and nails, it is much more difficult to cure this disease. This requires the help of a dermatologist who will perform appropriate tests and implement a special treatment directed at the microorganism causing mycosis.
Infection with yeast-like fungi is less common, while fungi are the most common cause of toenail nail mycosis in elderly people with impaired peripheral circulation and accompanying chronic diseases. Foot fungus most often spreads to the nail plate. As a result of the trauma and pressure of the nail, fungi can more easily pass to the nail and develop fungal infections. The factors that favour the development of onychomycosis are: heat, humidity, nail plate injuries, chronic diseases.
What are the symptoms of onychomycosis?
The nail fungus can be suspected by observing the changing nail plate. The first changes on the nails should make the patient visit the doctor. Early start of treatment can inhibit the development of the disease.
- In case of infection with dermatophytes, the edge of the free nail is destroyed.
- Initially, the nail becomes matt yellow or white-yellow, yellowish brown or greenish. Then you can see that the nail becomes brittle and easily breaks.
- The edge of the nail becomes jagged and the nail plate disintegrates with time.
- The nail starts to increase its thickness and changes its shape. Under the nail the skin becomes excessively keratinized, which results in the separation of the nail from the ground (so-called onycholysis).
- During the development of this type of onychomycosis there is no inflammation or pain, so patients underestimate the serious symptoms of this disease.
- Yeast-like fungi cause nail mycosis accompanied by inflammation, redness and swelling in the area of the nail plate. The nail plate becomes matt, opaque and thicker. Purulent secretions may ooze from the skin located around the nail.
- Mould fungi mainly attack the nail plate of fingers of elderly people with impaired peripheral circulation. The characteristic feature is the yellowing of the nail and its folding. Keratinization of the skin can occur under the nail and on the nail.
How to treat nail mycosis?
Effective treatment of onychomycosis in the toenails or hands should be started from the mycological examination of the material collected from the nail plate. Sometimes, to make sure that the deformation of the nail was caused by fungi, you can evaluate the nail clippings under the microscope.
Most nail mycosis is accompanied by foot mycosis. For this reason, the treatment should cover the entire foot and nails. The fungus is given a general treatment. It is also recommended to introduce topical treatment of the nail plate by using an appropriate preparation for nail mycosis, and in older people also drugs improving peripheral circulation.
Usually effective treatment of onychomycosis lasts even several months. The factor that accelerates the treatment of mycosis is the speed of the patient's visit to the doctor. A small change on the nail subjected to an appropriately fast treatment prognoses better than the surviving condition of the nail mycosis.
What medications are used to treat onychomycosis?
Drugs commonly used to treat onychomycosis include:
- terbinafine - treatment of nail changes lasts 6 weeks in the case of hand mycosis and 3-6 months in the case of foot mycosis, the drug has a fungicidal and fungicidal effect (particularly good against dermatophytes and to a small extent against yeasts);
- Intraconazole - a derivative of ketoconazole, shows high fungicidal properties; used for pulse therapy - it is based on administration of the drug for one week in a month, followed by repetition of pulses 3-6 times; intraconazole accumulates in nail keratin and remains active for a long time.
- fluconazole - used if other preparations were not suitable for the fight against onychomycosis (it has a strong effect on dermatophytes).
Medicines used for topical treatment of foot and nail mycosis, usually in the form of ointments or creams, include nystatin, natamycin, miconazole, econazole, isoconazole, isoconazole and many other fungicides.
How to prevent foot and nail mycosis?
In order to protect yourself against foot and nail fungus, it is necessary to take care of proper foot care. Avoid injuries, tight shoes, cuts during pedicure. Treatments of this type should be performed only in proven salons.
It is important to use only your own toiletries - towel, flaps, sponges and nail care tools - scissors, file.
To avoid this type of nail disease, do not use other people's shoes. Flip-flops should be worn in the swimming pool, sauna or other places where barefoot walking is possible. It is necessary to avoid contact between the foot and the ground.
Socks and socks made of artificial materials must not be used. Excessive foot sweating is a factor predisposing to the development of fungal infection. It is recommended to use airy footwear.
It is important that the feet are always dry, so they should be thoroughly and gently dried after bathing. For foot sweating, we recommend backfill and sweat reducing spray.