A fungal infection begins as a tiny dot under the surface of a toe or finger nail. If untreated, it then spreads and causes further discoloration, breakage and thickening. If still no actions are taken the infection will persist indefinitely. Luckily, there is a nail fungus treatment that can cure such infections.
Different microscopic organisms can cause this condition to occur. Dermatophyte fungi are one kind of possible organism. Other possibilities include yeasts as well as molds. All of these thrive in warm, wet conditions and pervade swimming pools and showers.
For the same reason, the toes are more often infected than the fingers. This is because the inside of shoes is dark and easily made damp. When conditions are right microorganisms can enter through small cuts in the skin. Another point of access is the area surrounding the nails. It takes repeated exposure for a infection, and only one exposure to a warm, moist environment is generally insufficient.
The first sign is a white or yellow dot. This color soon spreads, or darkens as materials build under the surface of nails. Increases in thickness, distortion and crumbling also occur. Onycholysis is another complication. This is when nails unnaturally disfigure and protrude from their surroundings. In addition to these, odors and a brittle, dull appearance are symptoms as well.
Because this can persist if left untreated, a doctors visit is key as soon as the initial spot occurs. Doctors will typically take a sample from under the nail for testing. The sample can be analyzed with a microscope or through lab culture analysis. Depending if infection has a fungal, bacterial or yeast origin, treatment will vary.
Antifungal medications from over the counter are not the best option. Infections are persistent, and have a tendency to reoccur. Oral medications are much more effective, and are likely to be prescribed if patients have cellulitis, diabetes, or pain. If nails are particularly unattractive, this medication may also be prescribed at a patients request.
The oral version medication must be continually taken for six weeks up to three months. Its effects may not manifest themselves until later on. The process involves replacement of the old nail with a new and healthy one, and this takes time. It is ideal if the area is kept away from warm and moist conditions to aid healing. Another aid is the use of topical type medications at the same time.
Antifungal lacquer is an additional treatment. It is applied daily for an entire week. At the end of this time frame, the built up layers are removed with alcohol. Then the process is repeated. This treatment takes longer and is used for less severe conditions. Symptoms may persist for a year before they are completely eliminated.
For the most severe cases surgery is an option. This is typically the solution when the patient is in tremendous pain and discomfort. This process involves complete removal of the nail and can have up to a year of recovery time.
These type of infections need to be cured as soon as they present themselves. If they are not, they only worsen and persist. Without treatment, there will be no improvement, so visiting a doctor is very important. Depending on cause and severity, treatment will vary.