A Close Look at Fungal Nail Infections
Any part of the body can be affected by fungal infections. Normally, fungi, along with other bacteria can be found both inside and on our bodies. It is when a certain fungus start to overgrow that it becomes an infection.
One type of infection that is quite common is onychomycosis or what we also call tinea unguium. It is a fungal infection that may affect both your fingernails and toenails. It usually takes time for fungal infections to really develop so they usually go undetected at first.
Why Do They Develop?
Fungal nail infections start from the overgrowth of fungi inside, under, or on your nail. Remember that fungi just love warm and moist environments so it is natural that they would overpopulate in areas like your toenails as your toes are usually kept inside closed shoes.
The fungi that cause nail infections are the same ones that cause athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. When fungi are already present on your body, then it is likely for them to cause nail infections. It could also be caused by coming in contact with someone with that kind of fungal infection.
Getting manicures and pedicures at a nail salon may also be a culprit, so make sure to find out how the tools are disinfected and how often it is done to maintain your safety from infection.
Are You at Risk?
As we mentioned, there are a few different causes of fungal infections of the nail. Although these infections are mostly preventable, there are still risk factors that could increase the risk of developing them. You have to be extra careful if:
- You have a disease that may cause poor circulation
- You are about 65 years of age or older
- You have diabetes
- You sometimes wear artificial nails
- You have a nail injury or a cut on your skin around it
- You swim in a public pool
- You have naturally moist fingers and toes
- You have a weak immune system
- You have a family member with this infection
What the Fungal Infection Looks Like
There are different symptoms of fungal infection, depending on which part of the nail it has affected and its progress. You may notice yellow or whitish streaks on your nail, flaking areas on the nail’s surface, a scaling under the nail, a crumbling tip or corner of the nail, as well as distortion, brittleness, and loss of the nail. A slightly foul odour may also come from the infected nail.
If you see these signs, visit your doctor at once and ask for a prescription for an antifungal medication. There are many over the counter treatments available but they do not always deliver results. A single round of medication may also not be enough. You may benefit from laser treatments. Talk to your podiatrist about your best course of action if you think fungal nail infections may be a recurring concern for you.