Nail fungal infections are common infections that occur in the fingernails or toenails causing the nail to become thick, discoloured, and more likely to crack and break. Infections in toenails are more common than fingernails as your toes are mostly confined to shoes. It is usually painless unless it gets severe. The technical name for a nail fungal infection is “onychomycosis.”
Development and causes of nail fungal infection
A fungal nail infection or nail fungal infection can be seen from the overgrowth of fungi in, on or under the nail. The fungi thrive in either moist or warm environments making them naturally overpopulated. This can also lead to jock itch, ringworm and athlete’s foot causing complex nail infections.
Fungi that are already present in the human body can cause nail infections. If you get in contact with someone who has a fungal infection, you may have contracted this infection as well.
If you are about to get a pedicure or manicure at a nail salon, ensure the staff about the equipment or tools whether they it has been sanitized and how often they disinfect it because there are more chances for nail fungal infections from person to person if the tools are not sanitized properly.
Who gets a nail fungal infection?
Any individual can get a nail fungal infection including older adults and people who have the following conditions:
1. Aged above 65
2. Wear artificial nails
3. Athlete’s foot
4. Have diabetes
5. Have an injury in the nail or nail surgery
6. Have a skin injury around the nail
7. Have a weakened immune system
8. Have moist toes or fingers for a long time
9. Disease-causing poor blood circulation
10. Wear closed-toe shoes (boots or tennis shoes)
11. Swim in a public swimming pool
Different kinds of nail fungal infection
There are different kinds of nail fungal infections. Some of them include:
White superficial infection
These usually affect the toenails where a certain type of fungus attacks the nail’s top layers creating well-defined white spots on the nail. Eventually, these white patches may cover the entire nail, making the nail soft, rough, and prone to crumbling. Spots on nails may also become pitted and flaky.
Proximal subungual infection
Proximal subungual infections are very rare but can affect both toenails and fingernails. In this type of nail fungal infection, the natural colour of the nail disappears leaving yellow spots at the base of the nail spreading the fungal infection upward. People with compromised immune systems are more prone to this infection. Also, it can result from minor injury to major injury affecting the nail or the skin surrounding it.
Distal subungual infection
This is the most common type of nail fungal infection that can develop in both fingernails and toenails. When infected, the nail’s outer edge has a jagged appearance causing yellow or white streaks across the nail. It invades both the nail bed and underside of the nail.
Candida yeasts cause this type of nail fungal infection to invade the nails previously damaged either by a prior injury or infection More commonly, it affects the fingernails and often occurs in people who soak their hands in water frequently. It starts by the cuticle around the nail, and later becomes red, swollen, and tender to the touch where the nail itself may lift off from the nail bed partially, or fall off completely.
Prevention of nail fungal infection
- Keep your hands and feet very clean and dry
- Wash your hands after touching infected nails
- Avoid walking barefoot in dry or moist areas and public places
- Don’t share nail clippers with others
- Get your manicures or pedicures done from trustworthy salons
- Reduce usage of artificial nails and nail polish
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