Nail fungus is a prevalent condition that has a significant impact on a large number of individuals globally. It is estimated that approximately 10% of the population experiences nail fungus at some point in their lives. However, as age progresses, the prevalence of this condition increases significantly, affecting approximately 50% of individuals aged 70 years or older.
Before delving into the topic, let’s take a quick look at the causes and signs of nail fungus.
What is Nail fungus?
Nail fungus, scientifically referred to as onychomycosis. It is a fungal infection that affects the nails, primarily the toenails. It typically starts at the edge or corner of the nail and gradually spreads throughout the nail, resulting in changes in its appearance and texture. The affected nails may become discolored (yellow, brown, or white), thickened, brittle, crumbly, and distorted in shape.
What actually causes this nail fungus?
Fungal infection: The primary cause of nail fungus is due to the growth of fungi into the nail bed. These fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, making places like swimming pools, locker rooms, and communal showers common sources of infection.
Nail trauma: Minor injuries can create openings or cracks in the nail plate. Activities like running, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or engaging in sports that put pressure on the toes raise the risk of nail trauma.
Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system increases susceptibility to nail fungus. Conditions like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, and medications that suppress the immune system can compromise the body’s ability to effectively combat fungal infections.
Poor nail hygiene: Poor nail hygiene promotes nail fungus Not keeping the nails clean, dry, and well-trimmed creates a favorable environment for fungal growth. Additionally, using unsterilized tools for manicures or pedicures, and sharing personal items like nail clippers or shoes, can increase the risk of infection.
What are the signs to identify nail fungus?
- Brittle or Crumbly Texture
- Distorted Shape
- Nail Separation
- Foul Odor
- Nail Deformation
To empower you with the knowledge required to address this condition effectively and to keep you away from several myths and misconceptions surrounding nail fungus, we aim to provide you with accurate information about nail fungus.
Let’s explore the Top 5 myths surrounding nail fungus
Myth #1: Nail fungus is caused by poor hygiene.
Poor hygiene is a contributing factor, but it is not the sole cause of nail fungus. Fungi tend to thrive in warm and moist environments, which means that nail fungus can develop as a result of various factors such as using public swimming pools, communal showers, minor injuries, or having a weakened immune system.
Myth #2: Nail fungus is only a cosmetic problem.
Nail fungus is not just a cosmetic concern. If left untreated, it can lead to pain, discomfort, and thickening of the nails. Additionally, nail fungus can spread to other nails or even the skin, causing further complications. For individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes or circulation problems, nail fungus can pose significant risks and should be treated promptly.
Myth #3: Home remedies can cure nail fungus.
While there are numerous home remedies and alternative treatments suggested for nail fungus, they often lack scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. Common remedies like vinegar, tea tree oil, or bleach soaks may have limited impact on treating nail fungus. Instead of seeking solely home remedies, Always seeking professional help is important in managing any infection.
Myth #4: Over-the-counter antifungal creams always work.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments can be effective for treating mild cases of nail fungus. However, they may not be sufficient for more severe or persistent infections. In such cases, prescription medications, either in oral or topical form, will have more effect. Rather than using medications on your own, it is always safe to use medicines under doctor’s guidance.
Myth #5: Once treated, nail fungus will never come back.
Nail fungus can be stubborn and has a tendency to recur even after successful treatment. Preventive measures, such as practicing good foot hygiene, keeping nails trimmed and dry, wearing breathable footwear, and avoiding sharing personal items like nail clippers, can help reduce the risk of re-infection. So, it’s always crucial to monitor regularly for long-term management.
By arming ourselves with accurate knowledge, we can effectively manage and prevent nail fungus. It’s important to separate fact from myth to ensure a clear understanding of the facts and the significance of taking appropriate measures to manage and prevent this condition.
Count on accurate and efficient nail infection diagnosis with Microgen Health. As your trusted and reliable diagnostic partner, we ensure prompt diagnosis.