Nail Fungus 101
According to numerous Internet sources, an infection of nail fungus occurs when fungi infect one or more of your nails. A nail fungal infection may begin as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the nail fungus spreads deeper into your nail, it may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges – an unsightly and potentially painful problem.
These infections usually develop on nails continually exposed to warm, moist environments, such as sweaty shoes or shower floors. Nail fungus isn’t the same as athlete’s foot, which primarily affects the skin of the feet, but at times the two may coexist and can be caused by the same type of fungus.
An infection with nail fungus may be difficult to treat, and infections may recur. But medications are available to help clear up nail fungus.
Signs and symptoms
You may have a nail fungal infection – also called onychomycosis (on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis) – if one or more of your nails are:
o Brittle, crumbly or ragged
o Distorted in shape
o Dull, with no luster or shine
o A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
Infected nails may also separate from the nail bed, a condition called onycholysis. You may even feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a slightly foul odor.
Fungi are microscopic organisms that don’t need sunlight to survive. Some fungi have beneficial uses, while others cause illness and infection.
Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a fungus that belongs to a group of fungi called dermatophytes. But yeasts and molds also can be responsible for nail fungal infections.
All of these microscopic organisms live in warm, moist environments, including swimming pools and showers. They can invade your skin through tiny invisible cuts or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed. They cause problems only if your nails are continually exposed to warmth and moisture – conditions perfect for the growth and spread of fungi.
Infection with nail fungus occurs more in toenails than in fingernails because toenails are often confined in a dark, warm, moist environment inside your shoes – where fungi can thrive. Another reason may be the diminished blood circulation to the toes as compared with the fingers, which makes it harder for your body’s Fungus clear reviews immune system to detect and eliminate the infection.
Nail fungus is more common among older adults for several reasons, including diminished blood circulation, more years of exposure to fungi and because nails may grow more slowly and thicken with aging, making them more susceptible to infection. Nail fungus also tends to affect men more than women and those with a family history of this infection. Resistance to fungal infection likely has a genetic component.
These factors also can increase your risk of developing nail fungus:
o Perspiring heavily
o Working in a humid or moist environment
o Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration