WHAT IS NAIL FUNGUS?
An infection of nail fungus can occur when fungi infect one or more of your nails. A nail fungal infection may begin as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the nail fungus spreads deeper into your nail, it may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges – an unsightly and potentially painful problem.
NAIL FUNGUS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
You may have a nail fungal infection – (also called onychomycosis) – if one or more of your nails are:
* Brittle, crumbly or ragged
* Distorted in shape
* Dull, with no luster or shine
* A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
Fungi are microscopic organisms that don’t need sunlight to survive. Some fungi have beneficial uses, while others cause illness and infection.
Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a fungus that belongs to a group of fungi called dermatophytes. But yeasts and molds also can be responsible for nail fungal infections.
Nail fungus is more common among older adults for several reasons, including diminished blood circulation, more years of exposure to fungi and because nails may grow more slowly and thicken with aging, making them more susceptible to infection. Nail fungus also tends to affect men more than women and those with a family history of this infection. Resistance to fungal infection likely has a genetic component.
Nail fungal infections can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails. They may also lead to other serious infections that can spread beyond your feet if you have a suppressed immune system due to medication, diabetes or other conditions.
Nail fungus can be difficult to treat, and repeated infections are common. Over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments are available, but they aren’t very effective.
To treat nail fungus, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as:
* Itraconazole (Sporanox)
* Fluconazole (Diflucan)
* Terbinafine (Lamisil)
These medications help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected portion of your nail. You typically take these medications for six to 12 weeks but won’t see the end result of treatment until the nail grows back completely. It may take four months or longer to eliminate an infection. Recurrent infections are possible, especially if you continue to expose your nails to warm, moist conditions.
Antifungal drugs may also cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage. Doctors may not recommend them for people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or for those taking certain medications.
To help prevent nail fungus and reduce recurrent infections, practice good hand and foot hygiene by following these steps:
* Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Thoroughly dry your hands and feet, including between your toes, after bathing.
* Wear appropriate socks. Synthetic socks that wick away moisture may keep your feet dryer than do cotton or wool socks (you can also wear synthetic socks underneath other socks). Change them often, especially if your feet sweat excessively. Take your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise. Alternate closed-toe shoes with open-toed shoes.
* Use an antifungal spray or powder. Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes.
* Wear rubber gloves. This protects your hands from overexposure to water. Between uses, turn the rubber gloves inside out to dry.
* Don’t trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs access to your skin and nails.
* Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes around public pools, showers and locker rooms.
* Choose a reputable manicure and pedicure salon. Make sure the salon sterilizes its instruments. Better yet, bring your own.
* Give up nail polish and artificial nails. Although it may be tempting to hide nail fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
* Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.
NAIL FUNGUS SELF-CARE
Sometimes, people turn to traditional home made remedies because current treatments can take a long time to work and aren’t always effective . There are two remedies that have proved to help nail fungus infections : vinegar and Vicks VapoRub.