Onychomycosis is an infection which occurs on the nail and sometimes it’s surrounding tissue. This condition is extremely common with 20% of the general population and 75% of people over 60 years old affected.
The problem causes frequent cosmetic concerns, but various patients also experience pain. Most of the times, onychomycosis can allow more serious infections to develop.
What causes onychomycosis?
Multiple fungi species can infect the nail. Fungus grows well in warm, moist environments such as showers.
Fungus infection is one of the limited foot issues that affect more men than women, perhaps because more men walk barefoot in locker rooms.
Age is a factor, too. Half the sufferers are people older than 70. Other risk factors include having certain medical conditions such as diabetes, vascular insufficiency and malnutrition.
How is onychomycosis diagnosed?
Diagnosis is done depending on a clinical test and can be affirmed by viewing scrapings of the nail under a microscope, or growing the fungus in a culture medium.
This is not an easy condition to cure, so rather than trying home treatment with over-the-counter medications, it's best to see your doctor.
Onychomycosis is easier to treat if you catch them early as with various conditions.
What are the symptoms of onychomycosis?
Most patients are able to see yellowing and thickening of the nail. At times, the area around the nail itches.
The nail can get brittle with jagged edges, deformed or detached from the nail bed with respect to time. Cutting your thickening nail can become difficult.
If the nail gets too thick, wearing shoes can also become uncomfortable.
What are treatment options for Onychomycosis?
The doctor will cut your nail and scale away the dead layers. You can also be prescribed a topical medication.
If the infection is very far advanced, topical medication won't be able to penetrate the thickened nail.
In these cases, you can take prescribed oral medication. These can be very effective but must be taken for several months.
Cutting of the nail can reduce symptoms rapidly, but regrowth of the nail can take one year during which time local treatment for fungus can be used.
Terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox), and griseofulvin (Fulvicin) are some of the oral medications which can be taken. The regimens of treatment differentiate and can last between six weeks and one year.
Side effects of systemic treatment include gastrointestinal disorders, liver toxicity, skin rash and other hypersensitivities.
These medications should not be taken during pregnancy or if there is a chance you will become pregnant because of effects on the fetus.