We all want our nails to be neat and clean, so we constantly take care of them. But we are not insured from some unpleasant situations like infection. So you are truly lucky if you have never suffered from fungal nail infection.
Yeast and dermatophytes are two major causes of such infection. These organisms can already live on your feet or you can catch them from another person (for example, by sharing shoes).
Among other causes of this problem are:
- Living in humid climate
- A nail that has already been damaged is more likely to catch the infection again
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Sometimes diabetes and pregnancy
- Having your hands in the water frequently
- Wearing shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
The infection affects the nail bed, it develops slowly and causes the nail to become discolored, thickened and distorted. Also toe nails are affected more frequently than finger nails. And in most cases the infection stays just on one of the nails.
At first, it is painless, the main symptom is that the nail becomes greeny-yellow. In some cases it can stay on this stage and the biggest discomfort is that it looks unpleasant. But sometimes it can get worse: yellow or white patches may appear on the infected nail bed, what is worse, the whole nail could come away. The nail can become soft and crumble, the bits of nail may fall off. The skin next to the nail could be inflamed or scaly. And if left untreated, the infection may soon destroy the nail and the nail bed, and as a result walking may become uncomfortable.
One more way how you could catch the infection is by ingrown nails. It is a painful condition, when the nail grows so that it cuts into the sides of the nail bed. And these little wounds could cause ingrown nail infection.
Pictures of fungal infection
The main reasons to this problem are:
- Small shoes
- Bad nail-care
- Trauma of the nail plate
- Genetic problems
At first sight it may not seem to be a big problem and a lot of people think that it will just go away. But this is a serious problem that needs to be treated; otherwise, there could be much worse consequences.
Antifungal medicines include antifungal tablets and nail paint. The tablets are usually effective, but they may cause side effects, so you’d better discuss them with your doctor before deciding which treatment to use. Surgery to remove the nail is recommended in very severe cases. Laser treatment is also an option: in this case high energy laser is used to destroy the fungus. However, this procedure is expensive and only available privately.
During and after treatment it is very important to look after your nails properly and practice good foot hygiene, if you do not want the infection to return.