Both conditions, nail fungus and onychomycosis, are caused by the same type of fungi, so called dermatophytes that thrive in moist, warm places and live on dead skin tissue. These fungi also cause ringworm and ringworm of the groin. Athlete’s foot is a skin infection, whereas onychomycosis is an infection of the nail itself. Many people who have athlete’s foot also develop onychomycosis, as the fungus spreads easily from the skin between the toes to the toenails if the skin infection is not treated.
Both athlete’s foot and onychomycosis are contagious and can spread easily in places like locker rooms, gyms, nail salons, swimming pools and communal showers. The fungus can also spread through the sharing of personal items like towels and clothes. As the name implies, athlete’s foot commonly affects people who participate in sports. Athletes are also particularly susceptible to onychomycosis, since warm, sweaty shoes provide the perfect living environment for the fungi.
The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot are cracked, peeling and flaky skin on the sides of your feet and in the webbed area between your toes. Sometimes, the skin becomes red and itchy, and you may feel a burning or stinging pain. If the infection spreads to your nails, you may notice a slight discolouration of the corner of a toenail, which then spreads toward the base of the nail. The symptoms of nail fungus are often subtle in the beginning, but as the infection advances the nails may become brittle and thicken. If left untreated, the infection could cause the nail to become loose and eventually fall off. Fungal nail infections are often painless in the beginning but may start to cause discomfort and pain as the disease progresses.
Even though athlete’s foot and onychomycosis are caused by the same fungus, the diseases are not treated with the same medications. Athlete’s foot is often mild and can be eliminated in a matter of days or weeks with the right antifungal treatment. The treatment options for athlete’s foot include antifungal creams, sprays, liquids, powders and tablets, in combination with self-care techniques, such as washing your feet frequently with soap and water and drying them thoroughly afterwards, as well as changing socks and shoes regularly.
If your skin infection has spread to your toenails, you will need to treat it separately. Nail fungus can be challenging to treat, since the infection is embedded in the nails and the treatment needs to penetrate the nail plate to reach the infection in the nail bed. Also, the infection cannot be eliminated completely until the old nail has been replaced by new growth, which can take up to a year.
Mild cases of nail fungus can be treated with over the counter topical medications, such antifungal nail lacquers or creams, although these treatments tend to have a fairly low success rate. For mild to moderate infections Topical treatments can be used. Naloc is a clinically proven topical fungal nail treatment that has a physical keratolytic effect and degrades the cells of fungi that typically cause fungal nail infection. Naloc also reduces disolourations and strengthens and smoothes the outer layers of the nail with first visible results often within two weeks of treatment.
If none of these treatments help, or the infection worsens, your doctor may need to prescribe an oral treatment. However, some of these drugs can have serious side effects, so be sure to tell your doctor about other medical conditions that you have and medications that could potentially interfere with the antifungal drugs. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the infected nail.