Nail fungus symptoms

Nail fungus symptoms can take years to develop.

Brittle, thick and discoloured nails are common nail fungus symptoms. Many people are not aware that they are affected, even though it is a common disease that becomes more prevalent with age.

There are several different types of fungi and your nail fungus symptoms may vary depending on which type you have. The two most common nail disorders are caused by fungi that tend to infect the skin, so called dermatophytes. The fungus eats keratin, which is the main protein that builds strong, hard nails. 

Not all nail disorders are caused by fungus – psoriasis, eczema and Reiter’s syndrome can cause similar symptoms.

Nail fungus can affect one or more nails and more commonly develop in big toes and little toes, since they are more likely to be in direct contact with your shoes. The infection is typically painless in the beginning. But if the disease is left untreated, the symptoms may begin to cause discomfort and interfere with walking and standing. Infected toenails often grow so thick that they are hard to trim, and shoes become uncomfortable. In some cases, the nail may separate from the nail bed, causing white or yellow patches to appear. Eventually, the nail may fall off. The unsightliness of an infected nail can also cause considerable embarrassment and social stigma, especially when the fingernails are affected.

Nail fungus toenail discolored

Different types of nail fungus and their symptoms

  • Distal subungal onychomycosis is by far the most common fungal infection of the nails, causing an estimated 90 percent of all cases. This type of fungus usually affects both the nail and the skin underneath it, and is more common in toenails than in fingernails. The infection often starts as a discoloured area in the corner of the big toe and then spreads slowly toward the cuticle. Other symptoms include pit marks, yellow streaks in the nail bed and underneath the nail, discolouration, and a thickening of the nail that may become flaky and separate from the nail bed. Debris that gets trapped underneath the nail may cause the nail to become brown and foul-smelling. The infection can also result in brittle nails that become soft and begin to crumble.
  • Proximal subungal onychomycosis is similar to the distal type but starts at the cuticle and slowly spreads toward the tip, causing the nail to rise. This type of nail fungus is very unusual and typically occurs in people with compromised immune systems.
  • White superficial onychomycosis is a fungal infection that causes white spots or streaks on the nail surface, which could turn soft, dry and powdery as the infection progresses. Eventually the nail may become damaged, crumbly and brown or gray, but unlike the distal type the nail does not separate from the nail bed.
  • Yeast onychomycosis is caused by the yeast Candida. Yellow, brown, white or thickened nails are common symptoms of nail infections caused by yeast. Some people with Candida in the nail also have a yeast infection in the mouth or suffer from chronic paronychia, one of the most common types of skin infections.

Treatment for dry and brittle nails

If you have brittle, peeling or split nails mainly because of environmental factors, some simple lifestyle changes could help improve the problem. For example, avoid soaking your hands and feet in water for extended periods of time, and make sure to dry them thoroughly after they have been wet. Use a mild soap and do not wash your hands excessively. Also try to avoid exposing your nails to chemicals, such as harsh nail polish removers, and moisturize them daily.

But if a nail fungus or nail psoriasis is to blame for your dry and brittle nails, you will need additional treatment to get rid of the infection, and the sooner you start treatment the better. For mild to moderate cases of onychomycosis there are several over the counter creams, ointments and nail lacquers available. Another option is Naloc, a topical treatment that treats nails affected by fungal infection or psoriasis. It also improves the appearance of discoloured and deformed nails. Naloc increases hydration, gently smoothes the outer layers of the nail plate and, by changing the nail’s microenvironment and improving nail surface integrity, keeps nails in good condition. First signs of improvement are normally seen already after 2-4 weeks of treatment

For severe nail infections, a topical antifungal treatment may not suffice and your doctor may recommend oral medications, removal of the nail or laser treatment. Although there is no cure for nail psoriasis, severe cases are sometimes treated with steroid injections. 

Treating nail fungus and nail psoriasis is challenging and regardless of which treatment you choose, complete healing could take up to six months for a fingernail and a year for a toenail.


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Naloc – Triple acting fungal nail treatment

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

Read about Naloc