Onychonycosis is an infection that affects the nail specifically. This affliction, usually caused by a fungus, infiltrates the nail via the skin on the side of the nail, through the toenail and/ or tip of the toenail. Growth occurs because of the warm, moist, dark environment feet provide so fungi may thrive and spread. If caught early, the infection can be contained and treated. If left untreated, the nail may become brittle and crack. It may even separate from the nail bed and shed from the toe completely.
What Are the Symptoms of Onychonycosis?
The symptoms of the fungal infection typically include discoloration, turning the nail brown, black, green, gray or yellow. Other symptoms include brittleness and cracking, and thickening of the nail. Separation from the nail bed may occur and the skin may become red, itchy or swollen.
What Are the Types of Infection?
Distal subungual onychonycosis occurs when a dermophyte enters the nail through the various means explained previously. Proximal subungual onychonycosis appears as a white or yellow spot on the top of the nail, close to the cuticle. It progresses into a plaque and thrives on the underside of the nail. If left untreated, the nail will eventually separate and shed.
The types of fungi that cause athlete's foot cause the most typical cases of toenail fungal infections. Athlete's foot caused by a dermophyte (tinea unguium) is also the cause of ringworm. Tinea unguium and ringworm both refer to fungus of the toe.
What Does Pain Indicate?
Pain from an infection may indicate that the infection has gotten to the point where it is past containment and needs the attention of a physician or a podiatrist. Other afflictions of the infected nail may occur due to the fungal infection. Some of these include paronychia and nail separation.
What Are Treatments for Onychonycosis?
Anti-fungal powders and creams generally contain the infection from spreading. If the infection is severe and has begun to spread, you should seek the attention of a podiatrist or a physician. Topical and oral medications such as lamisil, terbinafine and ketoconazole are available to treat toenail fungus and relieve the pain that this fungal infection can cause.
How is Toenail Fungus Prevented?
Toenail fungus is not caused by bad hygiene alone. If you frequently come in contact with areas such as pools, public showers or locker rooms you may be susceptible to contracting toenail fungus. Always wear shower slippers to prevent contact with surfaces where the fungus may thrive. Keep your feet clean and dry. Do not wear tight shoes. Wear shoes and socks that allow your feet to breathe.
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