Nail Fungus Causes Symptoms and How to Overcome It
Nail fungus is a fungal infection that occurs in the hands and toenails. This condition, also known as tinea unguium or Onychomycosis can be experienced by anyone, especially the elderly. Generally, nail fungus is not a dangerous condition.
At the beginning of its appearance, nail fungus is often marked with white or yellow spots on the tip of the nail. Over time, the nails will change color, thicken, and the ends become brittle.
Causes of Nail Fungus
The cause of nail fungus or Onychomycosis is a fungal infection. The fungus that causes the infection is generally a dermatophyte fungus. Several risk factors make a person more susceptible to nail fungus.
One risk factor is aging. Nail fungus is more prone to occur in the elderly because elderly nails tend to be brittle and dry. This causes the nails to crack easily, so they can be entered by the fungus.
Apart from age, several other factors can increase a person’s risk of getting nail fungus, namely:
- Poor blood circulation, for example in peripheral arterial disease.
- Weak immune system, such as in people with HIV / AIDS or diabetes.
- Sweating a lot.
- Suffered from water fleas.
- Suffered from psoriasis, because often experience wounds on the skin around the nails.
- Often walk barefoot in a humid and crowded place, such as in a public bathroom or the area around a swimming pool.
- Have a job or hobby that is often in contact with water.
Symptoms of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus or tinea unguium can attack the nails, but this condition appears more often on the toenails. Some abnormalities in the nails below can indicate the presence of nail fungus:
- Thickened nails.
- White spots appear on the nails.
- Nails change color to white, brownish yellow, or blackish.
- Nails become rough and brittle.
- Separate nails with finger skin where it sticks.
- An unpleasant odor arises on the nails.
When to see a doctor
If abnormalities arise on the nails as mentioned above, consult a dermatologist for treatment. Nail fungus treatment requires a long time. During treatment, patients need to continue to control the doctor to know the progress of the disease and evaluate treatment.
Diabetics need to regularly see a doctor to prevent further diabetes complications, such as nail fungus infections.
Nail Fungus Diagnosis
Of the nail abnormalities that arise, the doctor will do a nail examination to diagnose nail fungus. The doctor will also perform a support for nail scrapings to confirm the diagnosis. The nail scrapings sample will be taken to the laboratory for further investigation.
Nail Fungus Treatment
The type and duration of nail fungus treatment can vary depending on how severe the nail fungus infection is and the patient’s overall health condition. To treat nail fungus, doctors can prescribe antifungal drugs in the form of:
Nail varnish medication
The doctor can give ciclopirox which is shaped like a nail polish. This nail varnish is used by applying it to the nails and surrounding skin, once a day.
Every 7 days the patient needs to clean the nail layer with alcohol before coating it again with ciclopirox. If needed, this nail varnish medication can be used every day for a year according to doctor’s recommendations.
Nail cream remedy
The doctor can give an antifungal cream to apply it. But before applying antifungal cream, the patient needs to thin the nails first with a special lotion or with a nail file. Nails also need to be soaked first to be soft.
Antifungal oral medication
Antifungal drugs taken can cure infections faster than topical drugs. Antifungal drugs taken for 6-12 weeks, but it takes more than 4 months for the nails to return to normal.
Nail fungus treatment can last longer, up to several months. Although his condition has improved, it does not rule out the possibility of recurring nail fungus infections.
Apart from just medication, nail fungus treatment can be combined with surgery. The doctor will first remove the problematic nail, so that antifungal drugs can be applied directly to the bottom of the infected nail. Besides, if the infection gets worse, the doctor can also recommend removing the nail permanently.
Nail Fungal Complications
Severe nail fungus can cause permanent damage to the nail. The damage can cause serious infections that can spread to the skin of the feet or hands (cellulitis), especially if the sufferer has a weakened immune system, for example due to the use of immunosuppressant drugs and diabetes.
Prevention of Nail Fungus
Because they are more at risk of fungal infections, diabetics need to check their feet more often to see if there are cuts, tears, or changes in the nails. Besides, there are several steps that diabetics can take to prevent nail fungus, including:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy food
- Drink according to doctor’s prescription
- Routinely checking blood sugar levels
To prevent the return of a nail fungus infection, you can take the following steps:
- Wash your hands and feet regularly. Do not forget to wash your hands immediately when touching infected nails and use a moisturizer on the nails.
- Cut nails evenly, smooth the edges of the nails and nail areas that are thickened with a miser. After finishing, wash the nail clippers thoroughly.
- Avoid sharing the use of personal items, such as towels, shoes, or nail clippers, with others.
- Discard worn shoes, and sprinkle disinfectants or antifungal powder into shoes that have not been used for a long time.
- Use socks that absorb sweat and change socks every day.
- Avoid barefoot in public spaces, such as public changing rooms or swimming pool areas.
- Avoid using nail polish or fake nails.
- Choose a nail salon that uses a sterilized manicure tool.