Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis) – An Overview of Nail Fungus Infection

Does the term Onychomycosis (on-ee-koh-my-ko-sis) sound bad to you? Wait till you see it. But better make sure they will not be on your own nails or you might not want to see your fingers for a time. To give you an overview, Onychomycosis is the scientific name for nail fungal infection. This type of nail abnormality is caused by the bacterium called dermatophyte or tinea unguium, of which sources include yeasts and molds. This bacterium is also the source of such skin infections as athlete's foot, jock itch, and the common ringworm.

Onychomycosis is 50 per cent more common than other nail disorders. It consists of several subtypes: Distal Subungual Onychomycosis (this takes place when the fungus affects the nailbed); White Superficial Onychomycosis (happens when the fungus forms "white islands" on the outer layers of the nail bed); Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (if the fungus seeps through the proximal nail fold); Candidal Onychomycosis (is caused by the bacterium candida, when the nails are overexposed in water); Total Dystrophic Onychomycosis (when the nail plate is completely ruined).

Normally, men are more prone to nail fungal infection than women. Nail fungi can actually infect anyone but those with diabetes or leukemia should take extra care, the same goes for adults especially ages 60 and above. Having declining immune system and troubled blood circulation is what makes them more vulnerable.

This infection is characterized by the thickening and discoloration (yellow, white, or black of the nails. Minor pain is felt in the infected area while the nail slowly detaches from its plate. This kind of fungus easily spawns in warm and moist areas, thus , always finding settlement under our toenails and seldom on the fingernails.

How does the nail get contaminated? Nail fungal infection are anaerobic microorganisms, which means that they thrive in warm and wet areas. The little supply of oxygen keeps them surviving making our nails the safest place for them to breed. They feed on the keratin substance of the nails and slowly destroy them.

Usually, walking barefoot in public swimming pools, communal shower rooms, and gyms gives them access to your toenails, while overexposing your hands to water and harmful chemicals allow the bacteria to grow in your fingernails. To cure the infection, consult a specialist at the early stages of growth. There are common oral and topical treatments that doctors commonly prescribe such as Lamisil, Penlac, Tinactin, and lacquer, among others.

If you are a fan of alternative medicines, vinegar works well as anti-fungal remedy. Soaking the infected part in vinegar for 15-20 minutes twice daily until the infection heals kills the bacteria because of its strong acid contact. Applying Vicks VapoRub on the area is also a popular treatment.

Meanwhile, the rules for preventing nail fungal infection are easy. Three simple ways: Keep your hands and feet dry and apply foot powder on your feet if you must; never walk barefoot in wet, public places; and most importantly, maintain good hygiene. Then, you are guaranteed to be fungi-proof but for awhile.