We might think that we’re living in a safe environment, but is it really safe from the millions of microorganisms that are ever ready to invade our bodies and infect us with different types of diseases? There are viruses, bacteria, and fungi all around us. While some of these tiny organisms have useful purposes, most can lead to dreadful complications in the human body.
Onychomycosis, or simply nail fungus, is an infection caused by fungi belonging to a group called dermatophytes. The disease is caused inside the nails. When fungus penetrates our nails, the infection occurs. Though the infection is commonly caused by fungus, yeast and mold are also known to be responsible for this condition. All these microorganisms dwell in damp, dark environments, making nails a perfect breeding ground for them.
The group of fungi that causes nail infection is also known to be the reason for a number of other skin disorders such as athlete’s foot, psoriasis, jock itch and ringworm. Those suffering from nail fungus experience an itching, irritation, and thickening of the nails. Additionally, an unpleasant odor is also discharged from the areas infected. If the infection is left untreated, it may also become painful and may even cause the nail to detach from its bed.
Several classifications used for characterizing this condition include:
White superficial onychomycosis – white islands are formed on outer layers of nail
Distal subungual onychomycosis – nail bed is infected
Proximal subungual onychomycosis – the proximal nail fold is infected
Candidal onychomycosis – infection due to bacterium candida
Total dystrophic onychomycosis – nail plate is completely destroyed
The key factor that promotes the infection is poor hygiene. If you maintain a clean surrounding and are careful about personal hygiene, you can prevent yourself from being affected. Some of the causes of this nail infection include:
Walking barefoot in communal washrooms, showers and pools
Improper hygiene – you should only use those instruments on your nails that are perfectly sanitized. Ask your manicurist if their instruments are sterilized
Excess perspiration – you are at a greater risk of being infected if you sweat very frequently. Putting on tight shoes allows no room for ventilation. Wear comfortable shoes and change your socks whenever they become damp. It is also good to apply powder on your feet.
There are different treatments offered for this fungal nail infection. You can use a combination of some effective home remedies, purchase over-the-counter products, take prescribed medicines, or have a laser treatment.
If the infection is at the early stage, the home remedies such as tea tree oil and vinegar, and the over-the-counter products can be helpful in getting rid of it completely. However, keep in mind that these are lengthy treatments that may take several months before the fungus is completely eradicated.
If you’re looking for faster results, you may try some prescribed medicines. These medicines destroy fungi but are also known to have other side effects. For this reason, many people tend to avoid this option.
Laser treatment is advised when the fungal infection has spread and is causing severe pain. The procedure is expensive, but is known to treat fungi completely. Additionally, no side effects are reported with this method.