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    Nail fungus

    • Overview

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      Nail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis), is a prevalent nail infection. It initiates as a white or yellow-brown spot beneath the tip of your toenail or fingernail. As the fungal infection progresses, the affected nail might darken, thicken, and become brittle at the edges. This condition can impact multiple nails simultaneously.

      In cases where the infection is mild and doesn’t cause discomfort, treatment may not be necessary. For those experiencing painful nail fungus leading to thickened nails, a combination of self-care measures and medications can offer relief. However, it’s important to note that even with successful treatment, nail fungus recurrence is common.

      Nail fungus can also manifest as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) when it affects the skin between your toes and the soles of your feet. If you encounter nail fungus, addressing the condition early can help prevent its progression and recurrence.

    • Symptoms

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      Nail fungus is characterized by various symptoms, including nails that exhibit the following traits:

      1. Thickened
      2. Discolored
      3. Brittle, crumbly, or ragged
      4. Misshapen
      5. Separated from the nail bed
      6. Emitting an unpleasant odor

      While nail fungus can impact fingernails, it tends to be more prevalent in toenails. Recognizing these symptoms early can aid in timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

    • When to see a doctor

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      Abnormal symptoms may be a warning sign of potential dangerous diseases. Please contact our team of doctors immediately for detailed advice and update the most accurate and appropriate health care method.

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    • Causes

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      Nail fungus is the result of different fungal organisms, with the most prevalent type being dermatophyte. However, yeast, bacteria, and molds can also trigger nail infections. Bacterial infections may lead to green or black discoloration.

      Fungal infections can extend from the foot, such as athlete’s foot, to the nail, and vice versa. Infection transmission can occur through contact with environments conducive to fungal growth, like gym shower floor tiles or the interior of damp, sweaty shoes. Vigilance in such conditions is important to prevent the onset and spread of nail fungal infections.

    • Risk factors

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      Factors that can heighten the risk of nail fungus development encompass:

      1. Advanced Age: The likelihood of developing nail fungus tends to increase with age.
      2. Excessive Foot Perspiration: Wearing shoes that induce heavy foot sweating can create a conducive environment for nail fungus.
      3. Previous Athlete’s Foot: A history of athlete’s foot elevates the susceptibility to nail fungus.
      4. Damp Public Areas: Walking barefoot in moist communal spaces, like swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms, can expose you to fungal infection.
      5. Skin or Nail Injury: Minor skin or nail injuries can provide entry points for fungal infections.
      6. Nail-Affecting Skin Conditions: Conditions like psoriasis that impact the nails can make them more susceptible to fungal infection.
      7. Diabetes, Blood Flow Issues, Weakened Immune System: Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or a compromised immune system can contribute to nail fungus risk.
    • Prevention

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      Adopting the following habits can effectively prevent nail fungus, reinfections, and the development of athlete’s foot, which can contribute to nail fungus:

      1. Maintain Clean and Dry Nails: Regularly wash your hands and feet, particularly after touching an infected nail. Thoroughly dry your nails, applying antifungal foot powder, and moisturize them. Utilizing a nail hardener may also be beneficial in strengthening both nails and cuticles.
      2. Proper Nail Care: Trim your nails by cutting them straight across and smoothing the edges with a file. Address thickened areas as well. Ensure to disinfect your nail clippers after each use. Avoid allowing your nails to grow excessively long, as this creates favorable conditions for fungal growth.
      3. Choose the Right Footwear: Opt for absorbent socks and change them during the day. Select shoes crafted from breathable materials to allow proper ventilation.
      4. Manage Shoe Hygiene: Dispose of old shoes or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders. In areas like pools and locker rooms, always wear appropriate footwear.
      5. Prudent Nail Salon Practices: When selecting a nail salon, prioritize those that employ sterilized manicure tools for each client. Alternatively, if performing home pedicures, diligently disinfect the tools you use.
      6. Avoid Nail Polish and Artificial Nails: Refrain from using nail polish and artificial nails, as they can create an environment conducive to fungal growth.
      7. Pool and Locker Room Etiquette: Don’t forget to wear footwear in pool areas and locker rooms to minimize the risk of fungal exposure.
      8. Prompt Athlete’s Foot Treatment: If you encounter athlete’s foot, promptly treat it with an appropriate antifungal product to prevent its potential progression to nail fungus.

      By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing nail fungus and related infections.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 06/08/2023