Does the idea of falling nails scare you? You must be. Nail fungus can do that slowly but surely. Nail fungal infection is onychomycosis (on-ee-koh-my-ko-sis) in scientific term. They are micro-predators from the bacterium called dermatophyte or tinea unguium, mother of other skin disorders such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Yeasts and molds are its common sources.
The disease indeed looks as bad as the name sounds. Once your nails are penetrated, they progressively form ugly cracks on the outer layers and white, yellow or black discoloration. It is accompanied by swelling, redness, and itchiness around the affected area. In the process, the nails, which once served as protective barrier to the fungus, detach from the nail bed and it would take months of treatment for a new one to grow.
There are of course some hassle-free preventive means to avoid them, if you haven’t yet been afflicted. Below is a list of useful facts and tips for you to follow:
Fact 1. The bacteria dermatophyte is anaerobic in nature, or it booms in places with very little or no supply of oxygen like your feet for example – they habitually stay covered in socks and shoes for 80 per cent of the day and are less ventilated.
Tip 1 . Always keep your feet dry and clean. Apply foot powder before putting on a pair of 100% cotton socks and shoes. It is also necessary that you keep your feet sheltered in wet and people-heavy surroundings (e.g. public swimming pools, gyms, communal toilets) to ward off possible contamination.
Fact 2. The toenails are the favorite habitat of dermatophyte because they are always more secluded, damp, and warm. This doesn’t give you reason to be lax with your fingernails. If your hands are often exposed in water and/or chemicals, the fingernails can also be infected.
Tip 2. As much as possible, wear gloves to protect your hands. Dry them immediately after exposure to liquid. Also, be sure to use sanitized instruments on your nails. If you prefer manicure and pedicure done by a professional in the salon, check if they sterilize their tools. Better yet, bring your own to be safer.
Fact 3. According to statistics, men are more likely to be infected than women. Kids need not worry, however. As anyone can actually be a victim to nail fungal infections, adults, persons suffering from diabetes and leukemia are among the most vulnerable groups to acquire this nail disorder. It is due to their immune systems getting weaker and blood circulation problems.
Tip 3. Proper hygiene and eating health foods that strengthen the body’s defense mechanism is the ultimate key to survival from these fungi. Acquiring nail fungal infection for diabetic and leukemic is dangerous as it may lead to other complications, so prevention is a must.
Fact 4. There are oral and topical treatments available over the counter which can help kill nail fungi. Popular brands like Dermisil, Lamisil, Tinactin, etc. are among the widely suggested. Alternative remedies can also be done if you want less costly medication. You may try soaking the infected part in vinegar for about 20 minutes two times a day. Do this until the infection disappears and you can expect a new nail to grow. Otherwise, just apply Vicks VapoRub.
Tip 4. Consult a podiatrist (a foot doctor) or dermatologist (a skin doctor) for professional and safe advice.