What is Onychomycosis? (Fungal Nails)
Onychomycosis, or nail infection, is a persistent fungal infection of the nail bed, matrix or plate. It is the most common nail disorder in adults, accounting for one third of all fungal skin infections and up to 50 percent of all nail diseases. Toenails are affected more often than fingernails. The infection can cause nails to become yellow or discolored. Advanced infection causes thick, brittle nails that often separate from the nail bed. It can also cause discomfort when wearing shoes or walking.
What are the causes of Onychomycosis?
The most common cause of onychomycosis is dermatophyte fungus that invades the dead tissue of skin or nails. Other causes include contact with certain moulds or species of yeasts. The overall prevalence of onychomycosis ranges from 2 to 14 percent of the population.
Where can you get Onychomycosis?
Onychomycosis is caused by contact with infective fungal agents Since these agents are present everywhere in our environment, everyone potentially is at risk for infection. Common sources for infection could include public showers, swimming pools, nail spas and gyms. Nail trauma and tight fitting shoes can also lead to infection.
What are the symptoms?
One or more of the following symptoms may indicate that you suffer from onychomycosis. Distorted, thickened or discolored nails, yellow or white streaks on or under the nails, brittle, crumbly or ragged nails and nails that have separated from the underlying skin.
What are the treatment options?
Current treatment options include topical drugs and oral antifungal drugs. Topical drugs are applied directly to the nails daily for a period of 6 to 12 months. This treatment is often ineffective because the drug has difficulty passing through the nail to reach the site of the infection. Oral drugs can be effective and are usually taken for a period of 6 to 12 months. However, there are many side effects associated with these drugs and in some cases weekly blood tests are required to monitor liver function.