Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails. If your condition is mild and not bothering you, you may not need treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, self-care steps and medications may help. But even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often comes back.
Fungal nail infections are caused by various fungal organisms (fungi). The most common cause is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. Yeast and molds also can cause nail infections. Nail fungus can develop in people at any age, but it’s more common in older adults.
Dermatophytes can also cause other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. You can get athlete’s foot in humid and warm places, such as changing rooms and swimming pools.
You can have nail fungus on both fingernails and toenails, but most commonly toenails are affected. The infection usually begins along one side of the nail and spreads inward. More than one nail can be affected, especially if you don’t treat the fungus. You will notice that the nail becomes yellowish and discolored. The nail gradually becomes both thicker and crumbles at the edge. Sometimes the skin closest to the nail can peel. Some may also have an infection of the skin between the toes, around the nails or on the soles of the feet.
Prevention and protection
The sooner you start treating nail fungus, the better chance of success you have. Nail fungus often requires multiple treatments. If a single – or part of a – the nail is affected, treatment with medical nail polish can help. It stops the fungus’s progress and makes the nail look fresher. You will find medical nail polish at pharmacies.
Take care of your feet. Reduce the risk of nail fungus by:
- using footwear in swimming pools and dressing rooms
- drying your feet properly after contact with water
- washing your socks at 60 degrees
- avoiding tight shoes.
Fungal nail infections can be difficult to treat. Talk with your doctor if self-care strategies and over-the-counter (nonprescription) products haven’t helped. Treatment depends on the severity of your condition and the type of fungus causing it. It can take months to see results. And even if your nail condition improves, repeat infections are common.
Your doctor may need to examine your nails and may even take some nail clippings or scrape debris from under your nail and send the sample to a lab to identify the type of fungus causing the infection.
Other conditions, such as psoriasis, can mimic a fungal infection of the nail. Microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria also can infect nails. Knowing the cause of your infection helps determine the best course of treatment.
If non-prescription medical nail polish doesn’t help, there is also prescription nail polish. Your doctor may also prescribe antifungal drugs that you take orally or apply to the nail. In some situations, it helps to combine oral and topical antifungal therapies. If several nails are affected by fungi, treatment with tablets is often required.
When to consult a doctor
Seek care if you have nail fungus on several nails. You should also see a doctor if you are using non-prescription medications and find that they don’t help. Since the doctor needs to analyze the fungus before you can get a prescription, you should visit a health center.
How APPOTEK can help
APPOTEK can help you with fungus on a single nail. However if you have nail fungus on several nails, you should contact your healthcare provider, because investigation is needed for further treatment.