Ever experienced a red, itchy, scaly rash on or around your nails? That’s an infection right there! Fungal infections occur in various forms, and can be quite uncomfortable to deal with. A simple solution is to apply over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments or creams to dry out the area. However, given the many types of fungal infections that exist, the treatment for nail infections, in particular, can change accordingly. Let’s understand the causes of fungal nail infections first, before we proceed to learn about the cures of the condition.
Fungal nail infection: Causes
Simply put, a fungal nail infection, or onychomycosis, as it is scientifically called, is caused by the overgrowth of fungi in, on, or under the nail. The same fungi that are present in or on your body can reach up to your nails and cause an infection. Fungal infections mostly occur on toenails as fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, which leads to their overpopulation. Therefore, athletes who keep their shoes on for extended periods of time are more likely to develop this infection.
Another prime cause of a fungal nail infection is when a person comes in contact with someone who’s affected by the condition. Moreover, unhygienic products used in a nail salon can lead to an unwarranted infection, which is why, you need to make sure the staff disinfects all their tools before using them.
Fungal nail infection: Symptoms
Visible signs of a fungal nail infection include:
While the afore-mentioned symptoms may appear ordinary, the best course of action is to visit a doctor and confirm the infection. The doctor will put a scrape of your nail under a microscope and tell you about any signs of fungus on or around it. That said, give the following cures a go, and reach out to a doctor if the infection doesn’t respond to any of the treatments.
Fungal Nail Infection: Treatment & Cure
Where fungal skin infections respond pretty well to external applications, nail infections are comparatively harder to curb with ointments and creams as nails are too hard to penetrate.
#1: Oral fungal therapy
The most common course of treatment for fungal nail infection, oral medications work about 50-75% of the time. However, oral meds can take up to a year to show results – because nails take that long to grow out.
This type of treatment is considered the best because it has shown higher cure rates than topical treatments. Common oral anti-fungal medications include Terbinafine, Griseofulvin, Itraconazole, and Fluconazole.
#2: Laser therapy
Also referred to as photodynamic therapy for this purpose, the treatment involves the application of light-activated agents onto the nail to destroy the fungus that has inhabited the nail. It’s largely effective, but comparatively costlier than other forms of treatment.
#3: Medicated nail lacquer
Many doctors suggest the use of a special nail lacquer that alters the micro-climate of the affected nail to make it less hospitable for fungus growth. The lacquer contains an effective amount of ciclopirox (8%) or amorolfine (5%) that, when applied to the affected nail, provides a hard, water-resistant film containing the anti-fungal agent.
#4: Iontophoresis (current therapy)
Quite similar to laser therapy, this procedure involves the use of electric current to help absorb a topical anti-fungal medication into the affected nail. Due to the limitation of many topical treatments in penetrating the nail plate, iontophoresis aids in incorporating the drug into the nail plate, and ensures that it penetrates the bed and matrix of the nail.
Currently, terbinafine is the most common anti-fungal medication for nail infections, which is why, the procedure is currently being optimized accordingly for clinical trials.
Fungi are everywhere around us, and therefore, it’s hard to determine exactly why or how a person gets a fungal skin infection. However, one thing is absolute – fungi thrive in warm, moist areas, and so, it is best to avoid those areas for extended periods of time. Keep your fingernails and toenails dry and breathable to make them less susceptible to an infection.
For more details on fungal nail infections, consult a reputed dermatologist in your area by signing up on www.skinandhairacademy.in, and book an appointment right away!