Nail Fungus: What is it, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Nail fungus is a type of infection frequently seen among the public. Nail fungus can occur on fingernails as well as toenails. The reason for fungus problems in nails is usually inadequate hand and foot hygiene. On the other hand, shoes that are too tight can also cause nail fungus. If left untreated, there is a possibility that it may spread to other nails. When a condition such as nail fungus is encountered, treatment should be started as soon as possible by contacting the nearest health institution.
What is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus is also known as onychomycosis in the medical literature; It is a type of infection that occurs when dermatophyte and mold fungus species settle in the nails or at the nail base. This type of fungus can usually enter through broken nails or cuts between the nail and the skin. Fungi require moist, warm, airless environments to grow. Therefore, not cleaning the common areas, which are usually wet, or wearing tight, non-breathable shoes for a long time may also cause this problem.
Fungal infection of the nails is usually caused by AIDS, HIV patients; It is more common in individuals with suppressed immune systems or a chronic disease, such as diabetic patients and people receiving cancer treatment. At the same time, nail fungus is more common in older individuals than in younger individuals.
What are the Symptoms of Nail Fungus?
Symptoms of nail fungus can be listed as follows;
- White, yellow, brown or black spots or lines may appear on the fungal nail.
- The nail may thicken or change shape.
- The nail is brittle or can break easily.
- Rough or pitted structures may be observed on the nail surface.
- The nail may not grow sufficiently in its normal course.
- The nail plate may separate from the nail bed.
- Pain may occur in the nail or finger with nail fungus.
If you have these symptoms, you may have a nail fungal infection. In this case, to prevent it from spreading to other nails, you should go to a health institution as soon as possible and receive appropriate treatment from a specialist doctor.
What Causes Nail Fungus?
There are various causes of nail fungal infection. The underlying causes of infection can be listed as low immunity, insufficient blood supply to the hands or feet, and inadequate hygiene, especially in public environments.
It is a common situation that in cases of decreased immunity or illness, the fungus enters the body and operates through the tissues around the nail edges. At the same time, as we age, nails lose their elasticity and begin to break more frequently. As the blood supply to the tissues decreases over time along with immunity, the likelihood of fungal infection occurring in older individuals is higher than in younger individuals. On the other hand, wearing small, non-breathable shoes for a long time or sweating of the feet may create a suitable environment for the growth of fungus.
Another main reason for nail fungus is lack of hygiene. Failure to adequately sterilize manicure and pedicure tools, which are generally used in public environments, is a common cause of fungal infection. In addition, adequate hygiene may not be achieved with particularly wet or damp items such as slippers and towels used in common areas such as pools, changing rooms and shared toilets. In this case, if one person has fungus, another person using the same item may be infected with the fungus. At the same time, if a person has a fungal infection in one nail, there is a possibility that it will spread to other nails if left untreated. Therefore, when there is a nail fungal infection, it should be treated as soon as possible.
How is Nail Fungus Diagnosed?
If nail fungus is suspected, a dermatologist should be consulted in the dermatology department of a health institution for diagnosis. First of all, a physical examination is performed by the dermatologist. Symptoms of nail fungus such as change in color or shape, thickening of the nail, easy breakage, or pain are evaluated. Then, if necessary, a piece of the nail is taken and sent to the laboratory for detailed microbiological examination. Nail fungus can be diagnosed by evaluating the results of physiological examination and microbiological analysis.
Nail Fungus Treatment Methods?
Nail fungus infection not only causes a physical problem, but can also negatively affect the individual socially and psychologically. Therefore, when nail fungus is diagnosed, treatment should be started as soon as possible. Because nail fungus treatment usually takes a long time. There are several types of treatment methods for nail fungus. Which of these treatments will be more suitable for the person is determined by the specialist doctor.
The first type of nail fungus treatment is topical applications such as creams and ointments applied only on the nail. This type of treatment can generally be effective on its own in cases where the nail fungus is mild or not very advanced. Because in cases where nail fungus progresses and the nail thickens, topically applied applications such as creams and ointments may not be fully effective under the nail. Apart from creams and ointments, nail polish as a topical application is also among the recommended treatments. Often compared to creams and ointments, topical treatment with nail polish can show more effective healing. The treatment process in topical applications is longer than other types of treatment. Therefore, oral (taken by mouth) and topical treatment can generally be taken together with antifungal medications prescribed by a specialist doctor. There are studies showing that more effective healing occurs when two treatments are applied simultaneously.
Another type of treatment is the use of laser beam, photodynamic therapy and ultraviolet (UV) light. In this type of treatment, direct application is made to the nail or tissue with fungal infection. The laser level is adjusted according to the patient so that the laser application can be tolerated by the patient and does not cause pain or any damage to the tissue. The frequency of laser application is determined by the doctor depending on the progression of the fungal infection. Therefore, this process may vary from person to person. Treatment of nail fungus infection with laser; It may improve in a shorter time compared to medication and topical treatment. Considering the possibility of side effects in drug treatments, laser treatment may generally be preferred by patients.
Items used in case of fungal infection of the nails, such as slippers, shoes, towels, etc., should either be completely sterilized after treatment or they should not be reused. Because if the fungus on the items is not fully sterilized, there is a possibility of re-infection.
What are the Ways to Prevent Nail Fungus?
In order to protect against nail fungus, it is important to first increase immunity against general infectious diseases. On the other hand, maintaining hygiene, which is one of the main reasons for nail fungus, can protect the individual against fungal infection. In this respect, not leaving hands and feet wet, preventing sweating as much as possible, and taking precautions against nail breakage are the first steps in protecting against nail fungus. At the same time, a personal manicure set can be used to ensure that shared manicure and pedicure tools are sterilized. In public environments, items such as slippers and towels should be personalized.
In addition, regular washing of hands and feet every day, changing socks daily and changing shoes are important to protect against nail fungus. In addition, nails should be cut regularly with personalized nail scissors and the nail area should be cleaned. Choosing breathable, suitable shoes for feet that stay in shoes for a long time is one of the important steps against fungal infection.
Nail fungus is one of the common infections in society. When symptoms of nail fungus are observed, you should contact the nearest health institution and receive the most appropriate treatment. To protect against fungal infection, various precautions should be taken and personal belongings should be taken care of.