What is Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis or nail fungus can affect both the fingernails and toenails. However, it is most common in the toenails. This is a fungus usually caused by non-dermatophyte molds or yeast (candida). Other fungus can include T. rubrum (Trichophyton rubrum) which is the most common caused by these yeast and mold.

These fungal infections actually vary in type and can affect a person at any age but more common in older people. Fungal nail infections can be contagious by either direct or indirect contact person to person. It is also more common in a diabetic patient rather as well. There are factors involved such as family history, using communal showers, poor health, nail trauma, athlete’s foot, and wearing toe covering shoes all the time.

Nail fungus can cause the nail to become thickened, brittle, have a foul odor, discoloration, pitting, and sometimes painful due to the debris of the fungus which may gather underneath the nail.

There are some things a person can do to aid in prevention of a nail fungus. A person should always keep hands and feet dry. Keep nails groomed and clean. Do not share nail clippers with others. Never go barefooted in public showers or outside of your home. Be sure your local nail salon uses clean sterilized tools or bring your own for them to use.

Of course, all of these things are not a guarantee of prevention and treatment may be necessary intervention. There are topical and oral treatments to be considered in these cases. Most topical do not work but if the fungus is mild there is a chance the fungus will be halted in growth. In these cases then an oral antifungal medication may be used. Many times the oral medications must be used for months or even a year. The most invasive method of treatment would be total removal of the affected nail.

It is always best to consult with your dermatologist to discuss your options for treatment.

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