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What Causes Nail Fungus?

Posted by Claudia Sidhu on
What Causes Nail Fungus?

Nail Fungus is a very common condition nowadays with about 8-10% of the world population affected at some point in their lives, and older people being at a higher risk of contracting it. Once people reach the age of 70 that number increases even more. Nail fungus, also called Onychomycosis, is an infection that can cause dark discolouration and thickening of the nails. It tends to affect toes to a greater extend than fingers. In this blog we would like to share the causes of this condition, how it is contracted and what nail fungus treatment nz methods are available to treat it.

Many people see their nails as their pride and spend a lot of time keeping them in their best shape. Understandably it can be very frustrating when they are not looking their best, are chipped or ragged, which could lead to the question if there is nail fungus present. Our nails serve as a protective barrier for our fingers and toes and to ensure they can fulfil that function, they must be kept healthy and good looking by way of regular manicures and pedicures. A fungus group called dermatophyte often causes nail fungus, these are tiny mould-like organisms found in the surface layer of the nail, the skin and sometimes the hair shafts as well. They feed on keratin, the protein that makes up the surface layer of the skin, and multiply. Once the nails are infected, these infections often occur in more than one toenail or fingernail at a time.

People suffering from diabetes, are much more likely to get nail fungus due to poor blood sugar control that makes nails more susceptible to infection. Women especially may be more prone to nail fungus when wearing tight shoes that doesn’t allow enough air to circulate around the feet. Also somebody prone to sweaty feet is at a higher risk of catching nail fungus, with many Athletes leading that group of affected people as they are often and regularly exposed to warm and moist environments such as the gym or the locker room.

Fingernail and toenail fungus in children is most commonly caused by one of three dermatophyte species: Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton rubrum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, whereas in adults it is often caused by an infection of a different species of fungi called Onychomycosis or Tinea unguium -- more commonly known as a fungal nail infection -- is an infection that begins under the nails. The fungi invades the nail after being spread by either direct contact with an infected person or animal, or objects that have touched the fungi, or unclean socks and shoes. Tinea unguium can easily spread in places where people walk barefoot, such as locker rooms and showers.

To sum it up, the 8 main common reasons for Nail Fungus Infections are:

  1.  Close contact to an infected person, and ongoing poor foot hygiene
  2.  Athlete's foot (Tinea pedis), easily transmitted through shared towels, bath water and walking barefoot on floors that many people walk on
  3.  Poor blood circulation and low immunity
  4.  Chemotherapy & Radiation therapy that is used to treat cancer that attacks fast-growing cells, including those in nails and skin
  5.  Underlying medical conditions like diabetes or a weakened immune system
  6.  Dry nails that split easily, and a lack of nutrients in the body
  7.  Ingrown toenails  
  8. Bacterial and/or yeast infections on the nails caused by a weak immune system, ageing skin, skin injuries or substances that have altered the pH balance of the body


Nail Fungus Symptoms

Symptoms of nail fungus may include: Change in color of nails. They may turn yellow-brown or become greenish blue. The nails might become thicker and crumble at the edges. The surface of the nails might feel rough, the areas under the nail plate may produce a foul odour when growing out, and the nails may separate from the nail bed (especially in toenails) and eventually fall off. Besides this, there are other known conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, yeast infections or injury can cause nail changes that make it difficult to diagnose the problem.

Nail Fungus Diagnosis

Fungus might be diagnosed by visibly examining nails and skin for discolouration and thickening. A laboratory sample test looking for fungus in scrapings from under the nail may confirm the diagnosis. The doctor may also take a small scraping of tissue under the nail plate for examination under a microscope. This will likely identify any fungal infection present.

Nail Fungus Treatment

As nail fungus can be passed on from person to person, it is very important not to share nail clippers or nail files with others. To treat this condition, proper fitting shoes and socks that are made of natural fibers such as cotton or wool are recommended. They are less likely to retain moisture than their synthetic counterparts. Tight clothing that traps sweat might contribute to the spread of fungus and should therefore be avoided. On the other side, it can be very helpful during the treatment and after it, to trim and clean the nails very regularly! 

An important note on medication: In case of diabetes or any other condition that lowers the immune system, over-the-counter anti fungal medication must not be used without talking with a doctor first! There is a potential risk the medication could weaken the immune system further.

What Nail fungus treatment should I use?

It’s a matter of choosing the right treatment while considering the severity of the infection.

“If you are affected by a mild to medium case of nail fungus and the infection took place recently, you may be able to get rid of it by introducing Purely Essential ToeNail Rescue into your daily routine, an all-natural therapeutic-grade product that helps against nail fungus by regular application.”

Other treatments might include topical medicines that are rubbed onto and into the nails, or pills taken orally. Whatever treatment plan is chosen, it will also include keeping the nails clean and dry and practicing good foot hygiene. It is further recommended to wear shoes and socks that let air circulate through them, and to avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms, around swimming pools, or anywhere else where skin can come into contact with infected secretions.

In case of a severe nail fungus condition, or reoccurring infections, or the fungus doesn’t go away after several months of at-home treatment, a doctor should be consulted and advice be followed. In such cases of severity and widespread, the doctor may recommend oral anti-fungal medication. This type of treatments are typically used for toenail infections, because they can be expensive and aren’t safe for the use around the mouth area. Taking oral medication requires careful monitoring by a doctor to ensure they don't cause harmful side effects.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is likely that it is nail fungus. The good news is that if caught early enough, there are ways to treat and eliminate the condition without having to resort to costly surgery or chemical anti fungal treatments that often cause heavy side effects. We can help you to get rid of nail fungus including the embarrassment it can often cause, and get beautiful healthy nails again.

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