What is nail fungus?
Many changes in fingernails or toenails may cause people to think they have a fungal nail infection of the nails, medically known as onychomycosis. It is the most common things that can happen to your nails, occurring in about 50% cases of nail abnormalities. Both fingernails and toenails are susceptible to the infection, which usually manifests as discolouration and thickening of the nail with crumbling edges. Out of the two, toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus.
Toenail fungus is an infection that gets in through the cracks formed in your nail or cuts in your skin. It can make your toenail change its colour or get thicker. As toes become warm and damp inside your closed toe shoes or due to other reasons, the fungus gets a perfect environment to grow. In most cases, a fungal nail infection is painless but if left untreated, it can make walking uncomfortable and painful.
The right nail fungus solutions or products at the right time can help you prevent as well as manage such situations and offer clean, fungus-free and lovely fingers and toes.
Is fungal nail infection contagious?
Though the fungus can be acquired from others, it is not greatly contagious. But since nail fungus is so common, you could find more than one person in a household having it which may be completely coincidental. However, constant intimate contact can increase the chances of fungal nail infection to be transmitted from one person to another.
Risk factors for fungal nail infection
What causes a fungal nail infection?
Each type of fungal nail infection can be caused by microscopic organisms called fungi that can affect the nail in different forms. These do not require sunlight to develop. Once the fungal nail infection begins to develop, it causes a certain part of the nail or the entire nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted. Following are some common causes of fungal nail infection:
When your nail is exposed to wet areas, high humidity, warm temperatures, or alkaline environment [high pH], this sets up the optimal environment for fungus to set in. To combat this create a dry, breathable and acidic environment.
When your nail hits against something and it is lifted from the nail bed making way for fungus to creep under the nail. In this case, immediate action can prevent fungus. An Anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiseptic could help but check if these do not contraindicated with the type of your injury.
Weak immune function:
When the immune system is not functioning strongly, there is a possibility that is not capable of fighting local infections such as fungus. You can avoid this by supporting the immune system with proper diet, rest, exercise.
Poor blood circulation:
When there is absence of proper blood flow to an area for even the immune system to get there, fungus can set in. Poor blood flow could also lead to poor nail nutrition allowing scope for nail fungus.
Different stages of fungal nail infection
It may not usually be serious, but nail fungus is always unpleasant to the sight and difficult to treat. For instance, a mild fungal nail infection in the early stages may not be painful or cause any discomfort, but includes visible symptoms of toenail discoloration, black or thick toenails and crumbling of the nails. This makes it absolutely necessary for you to begin toenail fungus treatment immediately.
Solutions to manage fungal nail infection
Fortunately, nail fungus in the vast majority of cases is curable and can be treated inexpensively. However, the way you treat a toenail fungus should depend on the type and severity of the infection. You may choose one course or a combination of treatment options after knowing what is right for you. Here are some of the key options available:
A measure such as medication for your toenail fungus is a method that is usually used in more severe cases. Antifungal medicines come in two main forms - tablets and nail paint. They usually need to be prescribed by your GP and may come with various side effects. It’s important to bear in mind that your nail may not return to its normal colour until after the infection has cleared, therefore, always get a sample of nail tested or checked to see if it is still infected.
This method can be very effective to get rid of nail fungus since it comes in the form of a tablet, meaning it reaches your nail through the bloodstream. Another great bonus of using this method means they may also clear up any associated fungal skin infections, such as athlete’s foot, at the same time! (Read: Tips to prevent and get rid of athlete's foot)
However, often the tablets have to be taken for several months to make sure the fungal nail infection clears up well and truly. There is also a strong possibility that if you stop taking the tablets too early, then the infection may return. Since it isn’t a natural method to get rid of nail fungus, there can be some side effects that may occur, including a headache, itching, nausea, loss of sense and taste or diarrhoea.
Antifungal nail paint
Nail lacquer is considered as useful and discreet as tablets since it’s applied directly to the infected nail and works its way through to the fungal nail infection. You can also choose natural nail lacquers or paints that come with various plant extracts like tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract. Use of topical remedies can clear fungal nail infections with ease. Usually, it will take 6 months’ time to get rid of nail fungus for a fingernail and around a year for a toenail.
Chemical nail removal
In a nutshell, this method gradually removes the abnormal nail plate and the nail fungus in a painless way. It needs to be used and then removed each day, morning and evening. It should also be applied to the nails twice a week after the nail plates have been dissolved, which will prevent reinfection happening as the new nail forms.
Surgery and laser treatment
When the fungal nail infection becomes too severe, there is no other option than to remove the damaged area of the nail or skin. In some cases, the entire nail might need to be removed with the surgery. If your fungal nail infection is very severe or painful, this is often the last resort, as it may take up to a year for a new healthy nail to regrow back in its place. A laser is also another possible option since its high doses of light energy can help to get rid of nail fungus. Although both methods are seen to be very effective, they are by no means long-term or simple cures.
Top tips to get rid of fungal nail infections
How to prevent nail fungus from reoccurring?
It is recommended to inspect your toenails regularly to ensure that fungal nail infection doesn’t reoccur. It’s important to act fast when you see signs of nail fungus, to prevent the infection from spreading further to other surrounding nails. In order to do so, you should frequently remove any nail varnish for close inspection and always wear open toe shoes if possible in warmer weather.
It doesn’t take much effort to help get rid of nail fungus infections. There are numerous other ways that you can follow, even after your fungal nail infection has been successfully treated, to prevent the infection from recurring. Below is a list of aftercare precautions:
- Keep nails short, dry, and clean
- Wash hands after touching infected nails
- Refrain from picking or biting nails
- Use antifungal sprays, powders or nail lacquer
- Avoid wearing shoes and socks for a long time
- Use all cotton or all wool socks as these breathe
- Wear shoes or sandals in public places and pools
- Stop wearing nail polish and artificial nails for too long
- Ensure that your manicure or pedicure salon properly sterilizes tools
The Final Word
Using nail fungus products made from entirely natural ingredients prevent the possibility of experiencing any unpleasant side-effects, allowing you to enjoy safe and non-invasive relief from the symptoms of this uncomfortable condition with a minimum of fuss. So if the effects of this frustrating condition are getting you down, make sure to check out natural nail fungus solutions that can help provide relief in the comfort of your own home!