Nail fungus is medically known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium. Nail fungus is caused by dermatophytes can can also be caused by Candida. The same fungus causes athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and it infects the skin between your toes and the skin of the feet.
The incidence of fungal nail infections are increasing worldwide among adults and children. This condition is commonly found in people with diabetes, a suppressed or weak immune system, and increasing age. Adults are more likely to have nail fungus infection than children. Because of the infection the nail can turn white, black, brown, yellow or green.
Keep your nails cut short. During treatment file down any thickened nail to let topical medication penetrate the nail plate. Use a separate scissors, nail filler and nail clippers to prevent contamination of healthy nails. Do not share pedicure and manicure tools too.
Avoid any injury and irritants to your nails. For example, if fingers are affected, use cotton and vinyl gloves for wet work. Use heavy cotton gloves for dry work.
If toenails are affected, wear properly fitted shoes with a wide toe box.
Keep your feet cool and dry as much as possible.
The typical signs and symptoms of toenail fungus infection or onychomycosis are purely cosmetic in nature, although in its advanced or severe state, the infection may be accompanied by physical discomfort or pain. Regardless of the type of the infecting agent, the condition in its early stage or mild form will manifest certain toenail fungus symptoms and these include the presence of grayish, yellowish streaks or whitish specks on the affected toenail.
In the search for the best toenail fungus treatment, to avoid complications the first thing that you must ensure is the accurate diagnosis and determination of the type of fungal infection. It is also imperative that you pinpoint the possible cause of toenail fungus infection in order to determine the most appropriate treatment option for the condition.
The typical toenail fungus symptoms can be used to differentiate the types or forms of the toenail fungal infection. The subtypes or forms of Onychomycosis are the following:
- Distal lateral subungual onychomycosis or DLSO – This type of toenail fungal infection is characterized by the thickening and cloudiness of the affected nail, and as the condition worsens, the nail edges become ragged or brittle. The color of the infected nail also turns either white or brown.
- Endonyx onychomycosis or EO – The infection process that characterizes this type of nail fungal infection is relatively similar to DLSO and the only distinction is that the former is manifested by the color change where the infected toenail turns milky white. Additionally, there is no significant thickening or hardening of the affected toenail. And unlike in the case of DLSO, the infection do not usually result to the separation of the infected nail from its nail bed, even in the severe cases of the infection
- Proximal subungual onychomycosis or PSO – This is the form of onychomycosis that is characterized by the presence of white spots or specks on the surface of the infected toenail. The color change or streaking initially affects the skin fold that overlaps with the base of the nail and gradually spreads to the sides of the nail fold. In most cases of this type of infection, the other parts of the affected nail will not manifest any change or discoloration.
- White superficial onychomycosis or WSO – This form of toenail fungal infection is mainly differentiated by the crumbling and roughening of the affected toenail. In most cases, this type of infection is characterized by the presence of small whitish spots that are usually powdery or speckled in form.
Candidal onychomycosis is another form of toenail fungal infection, although it is not associated with the subtypes that were enumerated above. The main reason for this is that the infecting microorganism in this condition is the Candida albicans. The toenail fungal infection is brought about by the chronic form of the yeast infection which typically affects the skin as well as the mucous membrane. This fungal infection may affect the entire nail and result to the thickening and hardening of the nail bed.
Other Conditions with Similar Signs and Symptoms
In the diagnosis of possible nail fungal infection, it important to note that nearly half of the conditions that manifest signs and symptoms associated with onychomycosis are actually caused by other infecting agents or the result of a different condition.
The conditions that manifest similar symptoms are the following:
- Lines and ridges
- Senile ridges
- Pseudomonas infection
- Chronic nail trauma
- Reiter’s Syndrome
- Lichen planus
- Darier disease
- Norwegian scabies