Though not very pleasant to the sight very many people develop some sort of fungal nail infection at one point of their life. The scientific name is onychhomycosis. Fungi often plus naturally live on everyone’s skin and in most cases harmless, the multiplication however is what cases them to be harmful is breeding conditions are right such as dark, warm and relatively moist places (Shestopaloff, 2013).
Not all fungal nail infections require treatment especially if it’s just mild and not likely to cause any further damage. The most important matter to take into account is whether or not you have any infections you it is still important to have consistent foot hygiene to stop already existing infections becoming more extreme, transmitting to others or developing any new infections. It is of at most importance to be on the look out for changes in the appearance of you nails, pain or discomfort.
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There are four main types of fungal nail infections. The most common is distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO). This affects the skin under the end nail (nail bed) including the actual nail. At the end of the nail bed is usually where the infection starts out, at which point the nail is likely to turn yellow or white. As the condition worsens debris from the nail and pieces of skin build up under the nail. When the infection is left untreated the nail could separate from the skin if it crumbles and splits. The major cause of distal subungual onychomycosis is wearing of shoes that fit poorly, similar to the causes of athlete’s foot. If left untreated it can cause lifelong infections that are very difficult to treat.
The second most common fungal nail infection is white superficial onychomycosis (WSO), unlike DSO it is easily treated. This affects only the top layer of the nail surface. Initially, forming white spots on the surface of the nail, all though with time the complete surface of the nail becomes covered with a chalky and crumbly powder though the nail does not separate from the skin (Shestopaloff, 2013).
The third type of fungal nail infection candida onychomycosis also popularly referred to as yeast infection of the nail. Though it is very uncommon it will usually affect the nail and the skin bordering the nail (nail folds) predominantly in the fingernails than toenails. The infection commonly invades the weakened areas of the nail; it causes the nail to change color to white, green or brownish with an odd shape. Unlike the other types of fungal nail infections, the infection may be painful, accompanied by normal signs of infection such as reddened, swollen, tender, or warmth in the skin next to the nail (nail fold).
The final most common type of fungal nail infection proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO), this type of infection is usually caused by dermatophytes (these are fungi’s that need keratin to multiple, these will usually cause superficial infections of the skin, nails and hair and usually spread by direct contact from other people affected). This usually affects the base of the nail (skin at nail fold) causing thickening of skin, which may eventually separate from the nail. The infection may cause the nail to appear opaque and the base of the nail white; as a result the skin on top of the foot may become infected (Shestopaloff, 2013).
Even though specific types of fungal nail infection are caused by different reasons the most likely causes include dirty and moist feet, wearing of shoes that can cause your feet to get hot or even sweaty, not wearing shoes in areas where fungal infections can spread effortlessly these include nail salon tools, communal showers and gyms. Other causes include health conditions such as diabetes, weakened immune system and damaged nails.
When it comes to modern medicine there are three main types of treatment; antifungal tablets, these will usually be consumed a minimum of once or maximum twice a day for a couple of months. The second type of treatment would be antifungal nail paint, these are distinct paints applied straight on the infected nail for a couple of months too. The final type of treatment is a lot more invasive which is nail softening kit, during this treatment a paste is applied on the affected areas of the nail, prior to been removed using a scraping device. For more severe infections there is a more drastic solution which to get rid of the nail permanently. For those with deeper pocket laser treatment are also available, this is done using high-energy laser that destroys the fungus completely.
Alternatively, tradition herbal treatments are also viable. The most common being apple cider vinegar, which can be, used both internally and externally. All one needs to do is mix apple cider vinegar, one part Epsom salts and six parts hot water. Once the water has cooled enough to touch, soak your feet twice a day for at least thirty minutes. You could also mix two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with eight two hundred and fifty milliliters of some warm water and if too bitter to the taste you may add a teaspoon of honey. Other traditional remedies include applying olive leaf extract, tea tree or orange oil, baking soda amongst many others.
Though there are treatment options available it is important to reduce the risk of developing a fungal nail infection (Trudeau, 2004). . This can be achieved by always ensuring your hands and feet are not only clean but also wearing comfortably fitting shoes and should always be totally dry, preferably made on non synthetic materials. If you must wear socks then try to wear organic fabrics such as cotton as these allow your feet to breathe as well as absorb any excess moisture. Try to have your own nail glooming set that should always be cleaned and sterilized immediately after use. Ensure that towels and socks are washed regularly and try not to share your towel with anyone else. Avoid walking around in public places such as gyms, showers barefoot. Replace any foot ware that you may think could be contaminated. Treat all infections as soon as they occur, if in doubt visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Shestopaloff, Y. K. (2013). Curing fungus infection of nails: Getting rid of nail fungus problem .
Trudeau, K. (2004). Natural cures "they" don't want you to know about . Elk Grove Village, IL: Alliance Pub. Group, Inc.