Introduction to Nail Fungus: Diagnosis, Treatments and Prevention

Nails are not a part of the human body that is prone to various types of diseases, however, nail fungus is a type of infection that can appear quite commonly. It is, in fact, 50% of all nail abnormalities. Now as you may already know, fungus is not something inherently bad on its own, it is something present on the body, but the problem appears once it overgrows. This type of fungal infection is also called onychomycosis or tinea unguium.

It’s important to mention that both the fingernails and toenails are susceptible to this type of infection and the way to recognize it is by the discoloration and thickening of the nail. Crumbling edges are also a sign. The toenails are the most favored playground for this fungus, there’s no doubt about that. I order to diagnose a nail fungus infection with 100 % certainty, a doctor would have to examine the debris that is present under the nail.

Statistics-wise, it has been estimated that 2 – 18 % percent of the worldwide population suffers from nail fungus infection. The older the person, the more prone they’ll be to nail fungus. When it come to the main culprit for the appearance of this condition, it is the microscopic fungi in the nail that ought to take the blame.

When it comes to how this condition is treated, the part that brings most nuisance is that it’s not something that can be cleared withing a few days. In addition to that, this is not an inexpensive process. The most common methods of treating such an infection come in the form of oral antifungal medications and topical ointments. In addition to that, however, there are some alternative types of therapy. There are also certain the counter creams and ointments, but their effectiveness is very mild, sometimes even nonexistent.

That being said, here are the three most common oral medications for nail fungus: terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox) and fluconazole (Diflucan). By taking these pills, the infected person will be able to slowly get rid of the fungus, however, the process might take up to 4 months before the body can manage to replace the infected nail with an entirely new uninfected nail. There are some extreme cases when a physician might opt to remove the entire nail, but that can occur if the infection is too persistent and the medications aren’t helping to clear it or it keeps coming back.

Other home remedies shown to have potentially promising clinical effects on nail fungus include:
  • Snakeroot extract
    Sometimes, nature knows best! Accoridng to a study, this naturally antifungal plant can be as effective as a prescription antifungal treatment.
  • Oregano oil
    This oil has one very important componetn that has antifungal properties – thymol. For an even stronger effect, it can be combined with tea tree oil, however it should be done with care and in small amounts at first as for some people this can cause an allergic reaction or irritation.
  • Vicks VapoRub
    This is used to treat coughs, but it has been proven that it can help treat nail fungus.
  • Ozonized oils
    Olive oil and sunflower oil contain the same gases that are present in the ozone layer. These gases are what studies have porven to be a powerful weapon against nail fungus infections.
    The main “recipe” for preventing nail fungus infections is simple – maintain good hand and foot hygiene.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
  • Always keep your nails short, dry, and clean
  • Opt for breathable socks
  • Don’t be hesitant to use antifungal sprays or powders if you are susceptible
  • Wear rubber gloves in order to avoid overexposure to water
  • Picking or biting nails should be avoided as this can trigger the process
  • Always wear shoes or sandals when in public places and pools
  • Only go to a manicure or pedicure salon that properly sterilizes the tools they use
  • Don’t overuse artificial nails and nail polish
  • Don’t share shoes and socks