Nails are not just a protective covering for your fingers and toes. They enhance the sensitivity of fingertips and toes while functioning as a tool, enhancing your grip and helping you in cutting and scraping. Like other growing parts of your body, nails are also prone to infections affecting their growth and have an impact on your overall health. Nail infections might seem like a mild problem, but it can get serious if left untreated.
The most common type of nail infection is fungal infection, accounting for about 50% of nail abnormalities. Fungal nail infections, which affect around 3% of the UK population, is more common in men than women and in adults than young people. Toenails are more commonly affected by the infection than fingernails.
Causes of fungal nail infection
This type of nail infection is basically caused by fungi that do not require sunlight to survive, (hence why it appear so frequently in toenails). A group of fungi called dermatophytes like Candida are mostly responsible for fungal infections. In some cases, yeasts and molds can also cause these infections. The fungi can spread from an untreated fugal skin infection to toenails or fingernails. For instance, Athlete's foot is a fungal skin infection of the toes that can spread to toenails if left untreated.
People who have a family history of fungal infections or have had injury or infection to the skin or nail are more prone to these infections. Nail infection is also common in people who live in hot or humid climates. You are at the risk of getting these infections if you:
- Often go to public swimming pools, gyms, or shower rooms
- Have deformed nail or nail disease
- Wear tight footwear
- Have a weak immune system
- Sweat a lot
Symptoms of fungal nail infection
In the case of infection in nails and one or more nails being affected. The symptoms of the infection are:
- Thickening of the nail
- Discolouration (often a green-yellow colour)
- Change in shape of nail
- Lifting up of the nail from edges
- Loss of shine
- Bits of nail may fall off
- Appearance of white or yellow streaks on the side
- Inflammation and scaling
Initially the nail infection is usually painless. However, if left untreated it may get painful and make walking uncomfortable.
Treatment for fungal nail infection
As the symptoms get worse, treatment of infection becomes indispensable. Prescription antifungal medicines may help clear the fungus but they often have unpleasant side-effects. There is also a risk of liver damage if you take these medicines; hence regular lab tests are required to keep a tab on it. Laser treatment is also available for removal of the fungus in the nails, but it is an expensive option. In severe cases, you may need to have the nail removed.
Topical antifungal ointments are considered to be the best alternative treatment for nail infections. These can be directly applied to the affected nails. You can find lots of natural treatment options for nail infections on SkinCareTotal. All the products in our range can help you clear the infection painlessly and can even help prevent future outbreaks from occurring.