Many individuals end up with a fungal nail infection at some point in their lives. It is not considered serious but can be unpleasant and hard to treat. The infection slowly develops and causes the nail to appear discolored, distorted and thickened. In most cases, the toenails are frequently affected than the fingernails.
Indications of a fungal nail infection
A fungal nail infection might not lead to any evident symptoms at first. As the infection progresses, it can lead to the following:
- Discoloration of the nail in which it turns white, black, yellow or green
- Thickening and disfigurement of the nail – the affected nail has an unusual shape or texture and can be hard to trim
- Discomfort or pain especially when using or applying pressure on the affected finger or toe
- Crumbly or brittle nails in which pieces can break off and pull away completely
Oftentimes, the skin nearby might also become infected and turn itchy and cracked as well as swollen and red.
How do I end up with a fungal nail infection?
Most cases of fungal nail infections develop as a result of fungi that infect the nails, usually the one responsible for causing athlete’s foot.
These fungi often thrive harmlessly on the skin but can oftentimes multiply and result to infections. Take note that the fungi prefer dark, warm and damp areas such as the feet. The following increases the risk of an individual to develop fungal nail infection:
- The feet is not properly cleaned and kept dry
- Using shoes that trap heat which makes the feet sweaty and warm
- The nails are damaged
- Walking barefoot in high-risk areas where fungal infections can easily spread such as locker rooms, communal showers and gyms
- A weakened immune system
- Certain health conditions such as psoriasis, diabetes or peripheral arterial disease
Always bear in mind that fungal nail infections can spread to others, thus it is vital to take the necessary steps to prevent its spread to others.
Treatment for fungal nail infections
Treatment for a fungal nail infection is not always required since it is unlikely to trigger any further issues and many feel that it is not worth treating. Whether the individual decides to undergo treatment, he/she must practice proper foot hygiene to prevent the infection from getting worse or spreading to others.
If the individual is bothered by the appearance of the affected nail or cause issues such as discomfort and pain. The following are recommended:
- Antifungal tablets
- Nail softening kits
- Antifungal nail paints
- Always keep the feet and hands dry and clean at all times
- Wearing properly-fitting shoes that are made out of natural materials and clean cotton socks to allow the feet to breathe
- Clip the nails to keep them short
- Avoid sharing socks and towels with others and make sure that towels are regularly washed
- Avoid walking barefoot in public pools, locker rooms and showers
- If athlete’s foot is suspected, it should be treated as soon as possible to avoid the spread of the infection to the nails.