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What is Nail Fungus?

What is Nail Fungus?

Are your nails yellow, brittle, or giving off a strange odor?  Then you might be suffering from a fungal nail infection.

Though the scientific terms for this phenomenon may seem fancy – onychomycosis (on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis) and tinea unguium – Nail Fungus is simply a very common nail disease. It can affect the fingernails as well as toe nails and actually comprises of 50% of the nail problems that people face today; yes, quite a large percentage!

Another interesting statistic is that nail fungus is more common in men than women, and more specifically, more common in the elderly than the young and also people with health conditions such as diabetes. You are probably already filtering this data and applying it to yourself.

What causes a Fungal Nail Infection?

Microscopic organisms called fungi are the cause of nail fungus infections. In fact, a group of fungi called dermatophytes (known as Candida) are most commonly responsible. They do not need sunlight to survive. Some yeasts and molds can also cause nail fungus infections.

Symptoms of Nail Fungus

Let’s move on to a more specific description so that you can be sure of how this actually could affect you. Let’s start by identifying the symptoms of nail fungus (warning – some are unpleasant!):

  • thickened nails
  • nails become crumbly, brittle or ragged
  • discoloured nails – white, black, yellow or green (should be pretty noticeable)
  • nail shape becomes distorted
  • dull nails (no lustre or shine)
  • nails also may separate from the nail bed
  • may have a slightly foul odour

The above symptoms are blatant signals of course but the first sign of a nail fungus is usually a tiny white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail. Generally, the symptoms are not painful.

How should I Deal with a Nail Fungus Infection?

Now that you’ve identified the symptoms, you need to know how to deal with a nail fungus infection. Of course you can’t leave it as it is; nail fungus can persist indefinitely if not treated.

See your doctor at the first sign of nail fungus or there can be complications. Though very rare, in some cases, the infection can spread to the skin around the nail, resulting in cellulitis (bacterial infection under the skin) or osteomyelitis (infection of the bone).

Nail fungal infections need to be diagnosed. This is usually done by examining debris that is scraped from underneath the nail. The nail scrapings are used in tests such as a potassium hydroxide (KOH) smear or a fungal culture. After diagnosis, there are various treatments available for the infection including laser treatment.

If you have any concerns, make an appointment with Nail Fungus Clinic today!

(Image Courtesy pepsyrock)

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