What is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects the nails. It is caused by various fungi, including dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds. The infection typically starts at the tip of the nail and gradually spreads to the nail bed and deeper layers. Nail fungus can occur on both fingernails and toenails, but it is more common in toenails due to the warm and moist environment inside shoes. Find extra details about the topic in this external resource we’ve specially prepared for you. Fungal nail treatment Birmingham, access valuable and complementary information that will enrich your understanding of the subject.
Symptoms of Nail Fungus
Recognizing the symptoms of nail fungus is important for early diagnosis and treatment. The following are the key symptoms:
Discoloration: One of the primary symptoms of nail fungus is a change in nail color. The infected nail may turn yellow, brown, green, or even black. In some cases, white patches or spots may appear. The discoloration can spread across the entire nail or be concentrated in certain areas.
Thickening: Another common symptom is nail thickening. Infected nails often become thicker than usual and may become difficult to trim or shape. This occurs as the fungus invades the nail bed and causes the nails to grow irregularly.
Brittleness: Nail fungus can make the nails brittle and prone to cracking, splitting, and crumbling. The affected nails may have a rough and jagged appearance. Prolonged infection can lead to nail deformity.
Distorted Shape: As nail fungus progresses, it can cause the nails to lose their natural shape. The infected nails may become misshapen, curved, or ridged. Examine this informative article can be particularly uncomfortable and may affect daily activities.
Loosening of Nails: Infected nails may loosen or separate from the nail bed. This is known as onycholysis. It can cause pain, tenderness, and a foul odor. The gap between the nail and nail bed can make the nail vulnerable to further infection.
Infection Spreading: Nail fungus is contagious and can spread from one nail to another. If left untreated, it can also spread to the surrounding skin, causing a fungal skin infection. This can result in redness, itching, and peeling of the skin.
Risk Factors for Nail Fungus
Several factors increase the risk of developing nail fungus. These include:
Age: Nail fungus is more common in older adults. Aging nails become dry, brittle, and more susceptible to infection.
Poor Foot Hygiene: Failing to keep feet clean and dry increases the risk of nail fungus. Sweat and moisture provide an ideal environment for fungi to thrive.
Trauma to Nails: Injuries to nails, such as stubbing or forcefully jamming a finger, can make nails more susceptible to fungal infection.
Weakened Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or other chronic health conditions, are more prone to nail fungus.
Poor Circulation: Poor blood circulation to the extremities, such as in individuals with peripheral artery disease, can make it harder for the body to fight off infections.
Wearing Tight or Non-Breathable Shoes: Shoes that are too tight or made of non-breathable materials can create a warm and moist environment, encouraging fungal growth.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Mild cases of nail fungus can often be managed with over-the-counter antifungal treatments. However, it is recommended to seek medical attention if:
The infection is painful or causing discomfort
The infected nail shows signs of spreading or worsening
You have a weakened immune system
You have diabetes or other underlying health conditions
A healthcare professional can accurately diagnose nail fungus and prescribe appropriate treatments, including topical or oral antifungal medications. They can also provide guidance on self-care measures and preventive strategies to avoid future infections.
Preventing Nail Fungus
Prevention is key when it comes to nail fungus. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of infection:
Keep nails clean, dry, and well-trimmed
Avoid walking barefoot in public places, especially in wet or damp areas like swimming pools or gyms
Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes
Avoid sharing personal items like nail clippers or files
Disinfect nail tools regularly
Don’t use artificial nails or nail polish for extended periods
By following these preventive measures and recognizing the symptoms of nail fungus early on, it is possible to effectively manage and treat this common infection. Uncover additional pertinent details on the subject by exploring this thoughtfully curated external source. Fungal nail treatment Birmingham, supplementary data provided.