Nail fungus is a key nail disease which is commonly treated as a cosmetic problem. Nail fungal infection is called onychomycosis and requires complex treatment otherwise it can get a chronic form and will cause severe discomfort. When we talk about nail fungus treatment we mean not only applying specific medications of direct action, but an entire lifestyle change. From this review you will find out top facts about nail fungus and how to treat and prevent the disease.
Top facts about nail fungus
Nail fungal infection is one of the most frequently diagnosed nail and foot skin diseases. It accounts for up to 37% of all cases.
Up to 77% of all cases turn into a chronic form and do not respond to traditional treatments and cures. The disease affects up to 8% of population of earth.
Nail fungi infection is more frequently diagnosed in patients under 20 years old and after 70 years old. This means that fungus is more active in human body with a weakened immune system.
Traditional treatments help to completely recover only 2% of all cases.
Conservative treatment helps only to reduce symptoms. 99% of cases of fungus on nails require nail removal.
Fungal nail infections are primarily caused by three types of germ organisms which are Candida, dermatophytic fungi and molds.
Up to 60% of toenail fungal infections are provoked with dermatophytic fungi. Up to 77% of fingernail fungal diseases are provoked with Candida invasion.
Molds are causing both types of fungal infection: on toenails and on fingernails.
Men are more amenable to fungal infections than women.
Certain working conditions increase the risks of getting a fungal infection (high moist or humidity environment).
Among top risk factors increasing the chances of getting any fungal infection are:
- age — youngsters and oldsters get fungal infections more frequently than middle age patients
- certain diseases — some diseases are known to slow down blood circulation (as diabetes). Poor blood circulation ensures favorable conditions for fungal infections to develop and thrive.
- Immune system disorders result in weakening of native protective barrier preventing fungal and bacterial infections. Some diets may also affect the strength of immune system.
- Some physical features of an individual as excessive perspiration will contribute to chances of getting a fungal infection. Increased perspiration creates favorable high humidity conditions for fungi to grow and thrive.
How to prevent nail fungus?
Before you will learn how to prevent fungal infection you should find out where you can catch the disease. Fungi need humidity environment to live, that is why wet environments are of the highest risk of getting an infection.
You can easily get fungal disease on your nails at the gym, in a public shower, sauna, swimming pool and in the public places where people wall bare foot.
Fungal spores are extremely resistant to environmental factors and can stay alive for a rather long time when they are outside from human body.
Fungal infection is spread through shared environment. This means that if you walk bare foot on the same floor where a infected person steps bare foot as well your chances to get fungal infection on your toenails equals 99,99%.
Other factors increasing risks of getting a fungal infection are:
- Wearing bad shoes — bad in this case means poor quality, tight or of smaller size than necessary. Such shoes make your feet constricted and suffocated. Thus feet get wet. Feet are warm enough to create favorable environment for fungal infection to penetrate and thrive. Fungal spores are extremely small and can penetrate your feet even through shoes and socks.
- Poor nail care — evenly cut and clean nails are not only aesthetic requirement, but necessary means to prevent inflammations, fungal and bacterial infections. Fingernails are less prone to fungal and bacterial infections due to being washed and cleaned more often than toenails. When dirt is accumulated under the nail it causes inflammation. Irritated and inflamed skin and nails are perfect entrance ports for different types of bacteria and fungal spores.
- Weak immune system is another contributing factor — weakened immune barrier does not protect your body from fungal and bacterial infections. When immune system is strong enough it is able to control, kill and clear out any infection from the body without medications help. But when the immune system is weak, the body is unprotected and infections easily penetrate skin and nails.
Ways to prevent nail fungi diseases:
Take proper care of your toenails. Always wash feet with antiseptic solutions, cut nails and do thorough examination of nail color, form, structure and smell. If you notice some bothersome symptoms then make an appointment with your doctor. It is important to diagnose fungi at the earliest stage to use conservative methods. Home medications and topical creams as well as prescription medications will only be effective in case of early diagnostics. If diagnosed early and the treatment is started timely, then chances for a complete recovery are rather high and the risks of necessity of the nail removal are minimized.
Choose proper shoes — we have already explained which shoes are considered as bad choice. To prevent nail fungus on your feet you need quality leather shoes of proper size. Be sure the materials do not get your feet suffocated. Do not wear shoes which you put on having nail fungus. Fungal infection spreads spores into environment and in your shoes as well. The size of the spores is so small that your socks do not prevent the spores from getting into the shoes. If you do not have a possibility not to wear these shoes, then consult your doctor about specific solutions to treat and cure your footwear. If you put such shoes without any treatment on your feet, chances are rater high you will get nail fungus again.
Avoid visiting public places bare foot — yes, this may sound odd, but the only possible way to prevent nail fungus is not going bare foot in the public places. This is a common practice to wear rubber slippers in the swimming pool or tanning salon, however this is a myth, that such open footwear can really protect your feet from nail fungus. The matter is that fungal spores spread by air as well. They land on your nails and feet skin and penetrate your body.
Avoid traumas — various traumas and injuries form cracks and scratches on the surface of nails. These damages weaken the native immune barrier and let the infections deep in the nail. If you have damaged a nail, do not wait for the first symptoms to occur. The best protective mean in this case is a curing nail polish which is sold in any drug store. It is enriched with curing and healing ingredients, being a simple colorless nail lacquer it forms an additional protective layer on the surface of a damaged nail plate. Be sure you have applied antiseptic on a damaged nail palte right before you apply curing nail polish.
How to treat fungus nail at home?
If diagnosed at an early stage, fungus nail can be treated at home without visiting your doctor. To diagnose a fungus you should thoroughly examine a nail paying specific attention to such symptoms as:
- Color — fungal nails commonly get spots or discoloration. The nails become of yellowish or brown color. Sometimes the change of color may look like after trauma. If you did not have traumas or injuries within a few last days, then it is more likely to be a fungus.
- Structural changes — fungal infection distorts nails. At the early stage you will not notice with your eyes some changes, but if you examine a nail plate with your fingers you will sense some ups and downs on the plate. This is how nail fungus starts.
- Change of smell — healthy nails do not produce any smell, but damaged with fungus nail produce foul odor which can be sensed in the environment. If you notice the slightest changes in how your toenails smell, then do not delay your visit to a doctor. It is a fungus. Nail fungus is not a cosmetic problem. It is a disease which should be treated with medications or removed surgically.
- Thickening — this can be an aging change of a nail, but damaged with fungus nails commonly get thicker. If only one nail gets thicker while other toenails look normal, then this is an evident sign you have a fungus.
What are the risks of untreated fungus on nails?
Apart from case worsening (nail fungus can become a rater unpleasant and painful problem) fungus can spread over body. At the beginning of this article you read that nail fungal infection is commonly caused with three major activators — these activators can invade not only nail plates and skin, but severely affect mucous membranes of mouth, anus and vagina. If fungus gets on mucous membranes then it becomes closer to invade your inner parts as lungs, heart. If mold will get into your lungs it can provoke a severe pneumonia. If fungal infection gets from your hands into vagina then it can lead to inflammation of womb, tubes and ovaries leading to infertility.
How to protect your family and home?
If you detected a nail fungal infection on your hands or feet then the first steps you should do is to isolate the epicenter of the infection from the environment as fungal spores are spread by air. You will surely contaminate your home. But we offer you simple steps how to protect your family.
First, isolate your fingers or toes with a tight dressing applying plastic membrane or urgently visit your doctor who will help you to isolate your infected body part.
Start cleaning your house. Take a high concentration antiseptic and brush all the surfaces you stepped on: floors, lower parts of the walls, bathtub and shower.
Wash your bed linen at high temperatures and with increased quantity of washing powder or gel. The temperature should be higher than 60C.
Wash your clothes separately from your family at high temperatures.
Get prescriptions from your doctor for your family. At this moment it is important to get additional support of immune system. Your doctor may prescribe your family members low dosages of antifungal medications.
When going to be treat and isolate your fungal nail in order not to spread spores in bed.
Always air your house and make cleanings of floors and bathtub at least once a day (twice is more recommended).
In te evening do additional preventive procedures for your damaged nails. For example you can use soda and salt adding them to hand hot water. This solution for feet soaking will reduce irritation and inflammation and will kill fungal spores on the surface.
Apply natural oils and extracts onto damaged nails to reduce irritations. Moreover they will make an additional protection and prevent fungal spores from spreading into environment with a layer of fat.
Fungus on nails is impossible to cure with home medications. Moreover home remedies can mask a problem for a long time and you will not witness any symptoms on the surface of a damaged nail. Still this does not mean that a problem does not exist. It exists and develops and in the next case of trauma or injury or any damage of nail plate, the fungus will thrive again.
What should you do if you suspect a fungus on nails?
- First, you should warn your family – do not conceal this problem as kids and older people are more prone to a disease and more frequently present complications.
- Visit your doctor and find out an optimum scheme of treatment.
- Do necessary applications and nail care regularly. Be ready to make treatments twice a day for at least a month to 8 weeks.
- Clean your house, and follow our simple advices on how to prevent fungal spores from your infected nail from getting into environment.
- Get prescriptions for your family.
Regularly visit doctor and track the progress. If a case gets worsen, then nail removal is inevitable.