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Fungal nail infection is a very common disease of the nails and about 50 per cent of nail abnormalities are caused by fungus. Fungi are normally present in the body but, when they overgrow, it leads to infection. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment for fungal nail infections.
Onychomycosis, also known as tinea unguium, is a common fungal infection that leads to thickened, brittle, crumbly or ragged nails in either the fingernails or toenails.
What Are The Causes Of Fungal Nail Infection?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the fungal nail infection occur when your toes are confined in a warm, and moist environment. It can also occur if you keep your toes wet for a long time.
Signs And Symptoms Of Fungal Nail Infection
The signs of a fungal nail infection include:
- Scaling under the nail
- A crumbling corner or tip of the nail
- Yellow white spots at the bottom of the nail
- White or yellow streaks on the nail
- Flaky white areas on the nail's surface
- Broken nail
- A distorted nail coming out from the nail bed
- Odour from the infected nail
How To Know That You Have Got A Fungal Nail Infection?
Many nail infections may look similar to fungal nail infections. To be sure that your infection is caused by a fungus, you need to see a doctor. The doctor will take a scraping of the nail and examine under a microscope for the signs of a fungus.
Treatment For Fungal Nail Infection
Treating fungal nail infections can be a long process as it takes time to heal. There are antifungal topical ointments like butenafine hydrochloride, ketoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole nitrate and oral medications like terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole to combat the infection. Consult your dermatologist before having these medicines.
Home Remedies For Fungal Nail Infection
Alternative treatment for fungal nail infections is home remedies which include snakeroot extract, oregano oil, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, and ozonized oils (sunflower oil and olive oil are infused ozone gas), garlic oil and lavender oil. It is to be noted that oils like oregano oil, tea tree oil, garlic oil and lavender oil are very strong, and have to be used with a carrier oil (coconut or olive oil) on the affected area.
You can use a cotton swab to apply the oils on the infected area and leave it on for an hour or so and rinse it.
Who Is At Risk For Fungal Nail Infection?
Although nail infections are prevented, there are some risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing it. You are more likely to have a fungal infection if you are diabetic, have a disease that causes poor circulation of the blood, swim in a public pool, have a nail injury or a skin injury, wear artificial nails, leave the fingers or toes moist for a longer period, and a weak immunity.
Tips To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections
Taking good care of your nails is the right way to prevent infections. Apart from that, the other ways to prevent nail infections are:
- Wear rubber gloves while washing utensils or cleaning.
- Using antifungal sprays daily.
- Dry your feet immediately after you have stepped out of the water.
- Get manicures and pedicures done from good salons.
- Avoid being barefoot and wear socks that minimize moisture.
- Avoid using artificial nails.