What is Nail Fungus?

What is Nail Fungus Infection?

Nail fungus infection develops when fungus attacks one or a few of your nails. This condition is also quite commonly referred to as Onychomycosis. Depending on how severe your infection is it might affect all nail (bed, plate and root) or only part of it. Also you should know that based on the type of fungus infection you have, it might affect nail and skin or only nail. In most cases fungal infection starts when fungi attacks your nail through a space, which is present between nail bed and your nail or it can also enter through skin cuts that are around your nails.nail-fungus-infection

In the beginning of infection you will notice a small spot under your toenail or fingernail, which can be either yellow or white. When this condition progresses you nail will become discolored and thicker. Also for some people this infection causes nail splitting and crumbling, which might even lead to nail separation from the skin.

Is it Necessary to Treat it?

While it is not a very dangerous condition for people who have a strong immune system and are healthy in general it is important to treat it. This is because when this infection is left untreated it can do a permanent damage to your nail bed or nail itself. Also it is not a condition that would go away on its own and if it is left untreated it might even get worse. Many people choose to treat nail fungus, because it doesn’t look good and it might even cause discomfort if the fungus is present in toenails. Some people who have toenail fungus infection complain that it is uncomfortable to wear shoes, stand for a long time or walk. The other reason why you should consider treatment for this infection the minute you notice it, is because it might spread to other nails. When this happens you will need longer and more costly treatment, so the sooner you will start the treatment the better. Also since this infection can be passed to other people you are putting your family members in a greater risk of getting this infection too.

Causes and Types of Nail Fungus Infection.

While it is possible to have fingernail fungus infection you should know that it is more common to get toenail infection. There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that it is much easier for fungus to thrive in toenails, because your feet “spend part of the day” in shoes. Wearing shoes throughout the day create moist and warm environment, which is perfect for fungi to survive and grow. The second reason is that there is less blood circulation in your toes when compared to your fingers, which makes it more difficult for your immune system to find this infection and overcome it.

In most cases Nail Fungus infection is caused by different types of fungus such as dermatophyte (~90% of cases), candida and mold. You can get in contact with these fungus and get nail fungus infection while sharing hygiene items (nail clippers and towels) or walking without shoes in public places (swimming pools, locker rooms and public showers). It is also worthwhile to mention that you can get this condition if you have Athlete’s foot, since it is caused by the same type of fungus that can spread from your skin to nails.

Depending on what type of fungus that caused your infection, the symptoms might be a bit different. In case your infection was caused by dermatophyte fungi you can either have Distal Subungual or White Superficial Onychomycosis. When fungus affects both nail bed and skin, which is beneath the nail, this means that you have Distal Subungual Onychomycosis. You can recognize this type of infection by yellow spots that are present in the nail bed and build up of debris bellow the nail. Also nail usually becomes thicker and discolored and it can even become separated from the skin. The other type, which is White Superficial Onychomycosis is a bit less serious since it only affects nail surface. You can recognize this type of infection by white color spots that appear on the surface of nail. Since it only affects your nail it will not become separated from the skin, like the first mentioned type of nail fungus. Once this infection progresses surface of your nail might become crumbly and change color to either gray or brown. When nail fungus infection is caused by candida, this condition is called Candida Onychomysis. However this type is very unusual and happens only for a very small number of people.

What Causes Nail Fungus Infection?

The Main Causes of Nail Infection.

nail-fungus-infection-causeThere are three main types of fungus that might cause people to develop nail infection. The first one and the most common type of fungus that causes this infection are called Dermathophytes. This fungus appears on hair, skin and nails; however it is important to mention that it stays on the outside and doesn’t go deeper into your body tissues. Dermathophytes are the primary cause for a condition called Athlete’s Foot. This condition is a fungal infection of skin that surrounds your toes. According to statistics one out of three people who have Athlete’s Foot end up getting toenail fungus infection too. So it can be said that one of the most common causes for toenail fungus infection is Athlete’s Foot. Since dermatophytes are present on floors (locker rooms or showers), towels, clothes, nail clippers and shoes, you can get this condition by constantly being in contact with these objects. The second type of fungi that might lead to nail infection is yeast (less commonly). This type of fungus is present in our bodies and they grow on nails and skin. Factors like long usage of antibiotics, weak immune system and other medical conditions might cause overgrowth of yeast, which might result in developing yeast nail infection. This type of nail infection causes swelling and pain and it might make your nail to separate from toe. The third type of fungus that might cause nail infection are called molds. Mods usually grow in the ground; however they can also appear on our skin and nails. Unlike other mentioned types of fungus in this article, molds are not so easily passed between individuals; however it is important to mention that it is usually more difficult to treat Mold Nail Infection than other types of infections. Also you should know that these three mentioned types of fungus (dermathophytes, yeast and molds) can cause infection in nails in combination or separately.

The Main Risk Factors of Getting Fungus Nail Infection.

Since knowing the cause of nail fungus infection doesn’t help much in avoiding it, it is important to look at the factors that might increase the risk of getting this condition. There are quite a lot of them and some of them can be more or less controlled by us, while others not so much. One of the factors that can’t be controlled by us is age, which greatly increases the risk of getting this condition. The main reason for this is that older people tend to have weaker blood circulation and they come in contact with different fungus for more years. Also when people age, their nails also become thicker and tend to grow much slower. All of these mentioned factors make age an important risk factor in developing nail fungus. The other thing to know is that, based on statistics, this condition is more common among men rather than women. The possibility of getting nail fungus infection for men is even higher when there is family history of this type of condition; however it is unclear why.

Certain health conditions might be also responsible for getting fungal infection. As it was mentioned previously Athlete’s Foot is a common cause for nail fungus so it is important to treat this condition as soon as possible. Other health conditions that might increase the risk of having this infection are psoriasis and diabetes. Also since having a strong immune system makes you less prone to developing this condition, more serious diseases like AIDS and cancer can lead to nail infection too.

There are also some other risk factors that might make you more prone to getting nail fungus infection. People who have a bad habit of biting their nails, are using cosmetic nails, smoking and living in a climate (warm and wet) are at higher risk of getting this infection. Also the type of job you work might also make you more prone to getting this condition especially if you work in moist and humid environment. For example people whose job involves keeping their hands in water for long time might have damaged skin, which might lead to infection.

Since fungus is a more common infection in toenails than fingernails it is important to pay more attention to what kind of shoes you wear. It is very important to choose both socks and shoes that allow proper ventilation and avoid footwear that is too tight. This is important because it will not allow for a moist and warm environment to be created, which is perfect for fungi to thrive and grow. Also people who tend to perspire heavily should make sure that their shoes and socks don’t absorb perspiration.

In case you have small cuts on your skin or nail injury you might be at higher risk of getting this fungus infection too. For this reason it is might be worthwhile to avoid walking barefoot in public places like showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools if you have even the smallest skin or nail injury.

How to get rid of Nail Fungus.

One of the cheapest ways how you can get rid of Nail fungus is to try some natural home remedies. When it comes to Nail Fungus there are many affective remedies that a lot of people find success with and best of all it will not cost you much. Most of the ingredients for trying these remedies you can find in your kitchen. Some of the most effective remedies for this condition include Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and Baking Soda. While these remedies seems to work for some people it is important to know that it might take a while before you see results. Also it is important to apply them on your nails on a daily basis so that you can better results.

coconut-oil-for-fungusThe other way how you can get rid of Nail Fungus is to use some natural oils. The main reason why these oils are able to effectively treat this condition is because they have antiseptic, anti-fungal or other properties. Due to these features you can find a lot of different oils included in OTC remedies for this condition. According to various studies some the most effective oils for treating Nail Fungus are Tea Tree Oil, Thyme Oil, Coconut Oil and Oregano Oil. Before considering one of these oils it is important to know that success rate with these oils are quite limited and usually it takes months of usage to see results. Despite that it is a cheap and natural way to treat fungus and for this reason many people choose this treatment option.

The other effective and fast way how you can treat Nail Fungus is to try OTC treatments for this condition. When it comes to nail fungus there are so many of these OTC treatments available that it might be even difficult to choose one. Most of them offer quite similar ingredients in formulation; however according to user reviews some of them tend to work better than others. For this reason it is very important to spend at least a little time reading user reviews before choosing one. Some of the best rated and popular over the counter remedies for Nail Fungus are ZetaClear, Funginix, Purnail and many others. After researching ingredients of these remedies and reading user testimonials we suggest trying either Funginix or ZetaClear. Both of these treatments are available for a couple of years already, they have effective ingredients in formulation and most importantly most users find success with them.

Laser treatment is one of the most effective ways how you can get rid of Nail Fungus. In fact according to statistics this method of treatment is effective for about 90% of individuals. However it is important to mention that this type of treatment is very expensive and in most cases it costs on average ~$1000. For people who have stubborn cases of nail fungus it might be necessary to perform multiple procedures of laser treatment, which will further increase the costs. Also it is important to point out that results are not seen instantly and users need to wait until their nail grows out completely.

Antifungal Nail Paint is one more method that can help treat nail fungus. You can buy nail lacquer in most pharmacies with a prescription from your doctor. Then you apply this lacquer on affected nail and ingredients in it work on treating the infection. One negative aspect of this type of treatment is that it requires a lot of time to completely get rid nail fungus. In most cases patients with toenail fungus might need up to 12 months of treatments. Also it is important to point out that this treatment works better for one type of fungus and worse for others. For this reason it is important to discuss with your doctor whether or not this is the right option for you.

In case you have a very severe fungus infection or other simpler methods didn’t work for you it might be necessary to have a surgery to remove infected nail. After infected nail is removed, a new and healthy nail will eventually start to grow in its place. The main downside of this method is that it requires a lot of time for a new nail to grow.

One more way for getting rid of fungus includes taking antifungal tablets. Some of the most effective tablets for this condition are either itraconazole or terbinafine. Both of them can be prescribed by your doctor. Both of these mentioned medicines are quite effective and they work from the inside to fight fungus. Usually people who take these tablets are able to treat this infection within a few months’ time. The only downside of taking antifungal medicine is that it might cause side effects like nausea, headache, itching and others.

Vicks-Vapor-Rub-for-treating-nail-fungusVicks Vapor Rub is probably one of the most popular remedy for treating nail fungus at home. Even though this rub was used for totally different purposes throughout the years, recent studies suggest that there a couple of compounds in formulation of this product that are effective for fighting fungus. These ingredients are Thyme, Menthol, Camphor and Eucalyptus oil. From the study that was done on Vicks Vapor Rub it can be said that this remedy has quite a good success rate (from 18 participants 15 users noticed results); however it requires months of usage too.