Onychomycosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Updated: April 14th, 2023 8:30 AM
Published: April 13th, 2023 11:23 AM
Onychomycosis, commonly known as toenail fungus, is a fungal infection that affects the nails of the fingers and toes. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Although onychomycosis is not a serious condition, it can cause pain, discomfort, and embarrassment, and can lead to complications if left untreated. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of onychomycosis.
Causes of Onychomycosis
Onychomycosis is caused by various types of fungi, including dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds. These fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, such as public showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms. The fungi can enter the body through small cuts or openings in the skin, and can also spread from person to person.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing onychomycosis, including:
- Age: Older adults are more likely to develop onychomycosis because nails tend to become thicker and drier with age, which can make them more susceptible to infection.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are more susceptible to onychomycosis because of poor circulation and weakened immune system.
- Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, are at a higher risk of developing onychomycosis.
- Nail injuries: Injuries to the nails, such as from sports or accidents, can make them more susceptible to infection.
- Poor hygiene: Poor hygiene, such as not keeping the nails clean and dry, can increase the risk of developing onychomycosis.
Symptoms of Onychomycosis
The symptoms of onychomycosis can vary depending on the type of fungus causing the infection. The most common symptoms of onychomycosis include:
- Thickened nails
- Discolored nails (yellow, brown, or white)
- Crumbly or brittle nails
- Deformed nails
- Foul odor
- Painful nails
- Nail separation from the nail bed
Treatment of Onychomycosis
Treatment of onychomycosis depends on the severity of the infection and the type of fungus causing it. Mild cases of onychomycosis can often be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, such as creams, ointments, or nail polish.
For more severe cases, prescription antifungal medications may be necessary. These medications may be taken orally or applied topically to the affected nail. Oral antifungal medications are often more effective, but they can have side effects, such as liver damage.
In some cases, surgical removal of the nail may be necessary to treat severe cases of onychomycosis. This is usually a last resort treatment option and is only recommended when all other treatments have failed.
Preventing onychomycosis is often easier than treating it. Here are some tips for preventing onychomycosis:
- Keep your nails clean and dry.
- Wear shoes in public showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools.
- Wear socks made of breathable materials.
- Avoid sharing shoes, socks, and nail clippers with others.
- Trim your nails regularly.
Onychomycosis is a common fungal infection that affects the nails of the fingers and toes. It can cause pain, discomfort, and embarrassment, and can lead to complications if left untreated. Treatment of onychomycosis depends on the severity of the infection and the type of fungus causing it. Preventing onychomycosis is often easier than treating it, and can be achieved through proper hygiene and by avoiding situations