Nail fungus – definition and facts

Nail fungus is the most common nail disease and is the cause for approximately 50 percent of all nail disorders.1

Common nail fungus symptoms are discoloured, thick and brittle nails that may crumble around the edges. Nail fungus occurs more often in the toenails than the fingernails and is more common in men than in women. It mostly affects adults and the risk of developing it increases with age, as seniors have poorer circulation as well as thicker and more slowly growing nails. Fungal infections of the nails are more common in people aged over 60. People with poor circulation, psoriasis, diabetes, a compromised immune system or a family history of nail fungus are also at greater risk for getting the disease.

The cause of nail fungus is often a fungal infection of the skin, for example athlete’s foot. The condition is more common among athletes and swimmers, since the moist, warm environment provides a perfect breeding ground for the fungus. Nail fungus is contagious, so people who often use public swimming pools and shower rooms, or get manicures and pedicures with tools that have been used on other people, have a higher risk of becoming infected. 

Once the fungus has been established in the skin or toenails, it can spread to the fingernails if you scratch your toes and toenails. Another risk factor for fingernail fungus is frequent hand washing or keeping your hands in water a lot, since that damages the protective skin around the nail and allows fungi to come in.

Symptoms of nail fungus

Nail fungus develops over time and is painless in the beginning, so initially you may not notice any symptoms. Your symptoms may also vary depending on what type of fungus is causing the infection. The most common types of fungi are dermatophytes, which are responsible for approximately 90 percent of all fungal infections in the nails. 

The first signs of infection are often a tiny white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail. As the fungus progresses, symptoms like thickened nails and brittle nails usually follow. It is not unusual to experience discolouration of the nail (generally a green or yellow color) as well as distortion and a loss of luster and shine. A dark color sometimes develops as debris gets trapped under the infected nail, and the nail could become soft and start to crumble. As the infection gets worse, the nail sometimes starts to separate from the nail bed, a condition which is called onochylosis and could potentially be painful and eventually cause the nail to fall off completely. If left untreated, the infection can spread to more nails and other people.

Nail fungus treatment

Nail fungus can be challenging to treat, because the infection is embedded in the nail and you will not see the end result until the infected nail has been replaced with new growth. Your treatment options will depend on what type of nail infection you have and how severe it is. For mild to moderate fungal infections, you can try topical over the counter treatments first. Naloc is a topical fungal nail treatment that treats both the symptoms and cause of fungal nails. By a physical antifungal effect Naloc kills the fungi that typically cause nail infection. It also treats the symptoms of fungal nails by increasing hydration, gently smoothening the outer layers of the nail plate and, changing the nail’s microenvironment and improving nail surface integrity. Even though nail fungus is hard to treat the first visible results are often seen already within 2 weeks of treatment with Naloc.

For best results, it is important to start treatment as early as possible and stick with it for the duration of the treatment time. For severe infections that are not improved by over the counter products, consult with your doctor. You may need a stronger treatment with tablets that are taken orally.


Sources:


Thomas J et al. J of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 2010:
35; 497-519


Nail fungus causes

Nail fungus is the most common nail disorder, but what is the cause of nail fungus?


Nail fungus and athletes foot

Athlete’s foot is a skin infection, whereas onychomycosis is an infection of the nail itself.

Naloc – Triple acting fungal nail treatment

Naloc is antifungal, reduces discolouration and strengthens and smoothens the outer layers of the nail.

Read about Naloc