Onychomycosis, commonly known as nail fungus, is a prevalent fungal infection that affects the nails, primarily the toenails. Understanding this condition is crucial for timely diagnosis and effective management. Here’s a complete guide covering everything you need to know about onychomycosis. See over here to choose the right onychomycosis treatment Canada.
Onychomycosis is most commonly caused by dermatophytes, a group of fungi that thrives in warm and moist environments. However, other fungi, such as yeast and mold, can also contribute to nail infections. The fungi enter the nails through small cuts or separations between the nail and nail bed, establishing an infection that can spread over time.
- Thickening of nails: Infected nails often become thicker and more brittle.
- Discoloration: Nails may turn yellow, brown, or even greenish.
- Change in shape: The infected nail may change shape and become distorted.
- Brittle or crumbly texture: Nails may become brittle, crumbly, or develop pits and ridges.
- Separation from nail bed: The nail may lift or separate from the nail bed.
- Age: Older individuals are more prone to nail infections.
- Poor circulation: Conditions that affect blood flow, such as diabetes, can increase the risk.
- Weakened immune system: Immunocompromised individuals are more susceptible.
- Trauma to nails: Injuries or repetitive trauma to the nails can create entry points for fungi.
- Warm and humid environments: Fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions, making certain environments conducive to infection.
Diagnosing onychomycosis typically involves a visual examination of the affected nails. In some cases, a nail sample may be collected for laboratory testing to confirm the presence of fungi. Differential diagnoses may include psoriasis, eczema, or bacterial infections, underscoring the importance of professional evaluation.
Managing onychomycosis requires a combination of topical and systemic treatments. Topical antifungal medications, such as creams or nail lacquers, are applied directly to the affected nails. Oral antifungal medications may be prescribed for more severe cases, promoting the growth of healthy, fungus-free nails as the infected nails grow out.
- Keep feet dry: Ensure feet are thoroughly dried, especially between toes, after bathing.
- Wear breathable footwear: Choose shoes made of breathable materials to reduce moisture.
- Practice good nail hygiene: Keep nails trimmed, clean, and avoid sharing nail care tools.
- Avoid barefoot walking: Especially in communal areas like gyms and swimming pools.
- Choose nail salons carefully: Ensure that nail salons follow proper hygiene practices.