Fungal nail infections: causes and symptoms

There are four types of fungal nail infections known nowadays. All of them are likely to occur when a small microorganism called fungi infects the nails. One of the first nail infections symptoms is a small yellow or white spot under the nail tip. Then you may notice other symptoms we will talk about in this article. Be aware that about 50% of all nail disorders are caused by fungi.

Fungal nail infections are considered to be relatively common and often become a consequence of athlete's foot. From 2% to 19% of people have fungal nail infections all over the world. These infections are more common in people over 60 years of age and rarely - in children (less than 1%).


Doctors cite a contact with fungi as the most common nail infections causes. The fungi spores begin to grow either on or under the nail. It's necessary to know that fungi are likely to grow faster in moist areas (such as those around the toes). Tight, moist shoes where there's not enough air can contribute to fungal nail infections.


Fungal nail infections can be passed from person to person or even through direct contact with floors and personal things of the infected person (for example, shoes).


What are the fungal nail infections symptoms? Nails may become discolored, spotted, streaked and thickened. They can break easily and even have crumbly appearance as the fungal infection progresses. According to scientific researches, nails can also include yellow steaks, pieces of skin, buildup of bits, nail fragments under the nail. Be aware that as the fungal infection grows the nail can separate itself from skin.


It's worth admitting that fungal nail infections may make everyday actions such as wearing tight or narrow shoes, standing or walking painful and uncomfortable for long periods of time. Over time fungal nail infections are known to cause permanent damage to nails.


There are four different kinds of fungal nail infections. They are classified according to the nail part involved. One of the most common infection's types occurs the end of the nail (the fungal infection invades the hyponychium). It is also called onycholysis (the nail plate splits from its bed).


The exact diagnosis regarding fungal nail infections can be made via investigation of the nail clippings where fungi spores can be seen under the microscope in the laboratory. Be aware that not every discolored or thickened nail means the presence of fungal nail infections. There's a range of other skin diseases possible to cause the mentioned symptoms, for example psoriasis, lichen planus or eczema.


Thus, it is very important to make a correct diagnosis of nail infections, because its treatment can be rather expensive and long-term. According to modern medical practice, there are two well-known ways for this diagnosis: "KOH" (rather quickly performed) and "Fungal culture" test (it make take approximately a month to come back, but pretty efficient).


Fungal nail infections should be properly treated because untreated infections may easily spread to other uninfected nails. Very often the doctor prescribes special antifungal medications. In case the disease has mild character the patient may apply lacquer (topical medication) or cream directly on the nail surface. However, such topical medications are not always efficient. One of the best ways to cure fungal nail infections is offered by antifungal pills, but at the same time they can cause different undesirable side effects.

 

 

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