Onychomycosis (onycho means nails and mycosis means fungal infection) is a fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails. The actual infection is of the bed of the nail and of the plate under the surface of the nail. Onychomycosis is also known as Dermatophytic onychomycosis, Ringworm of the nail, and Tinea unguium.
This condition may affect toenails or fingernails, but toe-nail infections are particularly common. The prevalence of onychomycosis is about 6-8% in the adult population.
Onychomycosis is caused by three types of fungi such as: 1) dermatophytes, 2) yeasts, and 3) non-dermatophyte molds.
Fungi are simple parasitic plant organisms that do not need sunlight to grow. Toenails are especially susceptible because fungi prefer dark damp places. Swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers typically harbor fungi.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes, problems with the circulatory system, or immune deficiency disease are risk factors. A history of athlete’s foot and excess perspiration are also risk factors.
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. Depending on the type of fungus, the nail may turn yellow, gray, brown, or black. The nail may become brittle and crack. It may separate from its bed. The surrounding skin may be red, itchy or swollen.
The nails of people with onychomycosis are initially a cosmetic concern. Without treatment, however, the nails can become so thick that they press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.
Onychomycosis can be identified by its appearance, microscopy and culture of nail specimens.
Onychomycosis is very difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, and therapy is often long-term. Therapy consists of topical treatments that are applied directly to the nails, as well as systemic drugs such as griseofulvin and ketoconazole. Oral drugs are not so effective due to low serum concentration of the drug at the site of the infection.
To prevent fungal growth, it is advisable to:
- Keep the feet clean and dry, and washing with soap and water and drying thoroughly
- Keeping the nails cut short and wearing shower shoes whenever walking or showering in public places
- Daily changes of shoes, socks, or hosiery are also helpful
- Excessively tight hose or shoes promote moisture, which in turn, provides a wonderful environment for onychomycotic infections. To prevent this, individuals should wear only socks made of synthetic fibers, which can absorb moisture more quickly than those made of cotton or wools.
- Manicure and pedicure tools should be disinfected after each use
- Nail polish should not be applied to nails that are infected, as this causes the water or moisture that collects under the surface of the nail to not evaporate and be trapped.
- Avoid cutting or tearing the skin around the toenails since this may be an entry point for infection
Suggestion about homeopathic treatment:
Homeopathic medicines do not kill the fungus. It enhances the immunity of the body, so that the body can fight against the fungus and resist it. With regular use, Homeopathic medicines help to restore the nail and prevent recurrent infections.
After starting homeopathic medicines, natural healing takes place. The nail, if mildly damaged, is repaired. If largely damaged, it falls off and the new nail which comes is healthy and generally can withstand the fungal infection.
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