Understanding Nail Fungus Infection

Nail fungus infection is fairly common health problem. It usually start as a small yellowish or white spot under your toenail or fingernail. If disease is not recognized and left untreated, it causes the nail to thicken, discolor and edges of the affected nail may crumble, due to involvement of deeper side of the nail. Nail fungus infection (usually caused by dermatophyte fungus) may affect single nail or it may affect multiple nails, but it usually do not affect all the nails. If it does not bother/trouble you or it remains as a small spot in nail, you may not need nail fungus treatment. If your nail fungus infection is causing trouble and the affected nails becomes thickened or discolored or painful you need to get appropriate nail fungus treatment and get your nail fungus cured. After successful nail fungus cure, the condition may come again due to fresh nail fungus infection, which can be reduced or prevented by taking measures to prevent nail fungus infection.

Medical term for nail fungus infection is “onychomycosis” and tinea unguium. Sometimes along with nail fungus infection of toenails, the fungal infection may also affect the areas in between your toes and this condition is called “athletes foot”. The causative agents are usually the same fungus.

What are the symptoms of nail fungus infection?

The symptoms of nail fungus infection may vary from person to person. Some persons may have toenails and some may have fingernail infection.

  • Symptoms of nail fungus include, pain (mainly due to which our attention goes to nail fungus infection), edges of the affected nails may crumble, and the natural shine of nails may be absent. The affected nail(s) may become brittle, distorted and ragged. There may dark coloration of nails due to buildup of debris under the nails, especially at the edges. In severe cases the infected nail(s) may fall off from its nail bed, called onycholysis. Foul smell may be present in nails affected wit nail fungus infection.

Why toenails are affected more frequently than fingernails by nail fungus infection?

Nail fungus infection usually occurs in toenails and less frequently fingernails. There are various factors responsible for nail fungus infection in toenails, such as:

  • The environment (dark, moist, warm condition inside shoes) where toenails are confined are ideal for growth of fungus. Fungus thrive if there is dark, moist and warm environment.
  • In compare to fingers (fingernails), the toes get less blood supply, which makes it difficult for our immune system to detect nail fungus infection and stop infection from getting lodged in toenails.
  • Many of us also neglect in trimming the toenails regularly, although we trim fingernails regularly. If nails grow long there is risk of injury to the nail itself. Injury to nail can predispose nail fungus infection.


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