Fungal nail infections can happen on both your hands and feet. Here, experts explain why and share the best nail fungus treatment products.
By Melanie Rud
It’s certainly not cute or glamorous, and can even be downright embarrassing, but nail fungus happens. Nail fungal infections — technically called onychomycosis; say that three times fast — actually occur in 10 percent of the general population, 20 percent of people older than 60 years old, and 50 percent of those older than 70, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
What Causes Nail Fungus?
A fungal infection causes nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, which is a common condition. That affects the nails on the hands and feet. The fungus responsible for this infection can live and thrive in warm, moist environments. It is made into a common problem for those who wear tight-fitting shoes, have sweaty feet, or are frequently exposed to water.
Fungi are microscopic organisms that can invade the nail bed through small cuts. Or separations between the nail and the nail bed. Once the fungus takes hold, it can spread to other nails and cause the nail to become discolored, thickened, and brittle. In some cases, the nail may separate from the nail bed completely.
Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing nail mould. These include having a weakened immune system, being over the age of 65. Having a history of athlete’s foot or other fungal infections. Having a nail injury or condition that affects the circulation in the feet or hands.
Additionally, certain lifestyle factors can also contribute to the development of nail fungus. These include wearing shoes that do not allow for proper ventilation. Walking barefoot in public places like pools or gyms, and sharing nail clippers. Her personal grooming items with someone who has a fungal infection.
In conclusion, a fungal infection is caused by nail fungus that can thrive in warm, moist environments. It can be contracted through small cuts or separations in the nail.
The Most Common Types of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, can affect both fingernails and toenails, and there are several types of fungal infections that can cause this condition. The most common types of nail fungus include dermatophyte fungus, yeasts, and non-dermatophyte molds.
Dermatophyte fungus is the most common type of nail fungus and is responsible for up to 90% of cases. It thrives in warm, moist environments and can easily infect the nails, causing them to become thick, discolored, and brittle. This type of fungus can also cause athlete’s foot and jock itch.
Yeasts, such as Candida, are another type of fungus that can cause nail infections. Yeast infections are more common in people with weakened immune systems, diabetes, or those who take antibiotics or oral contraceptives.
Non-dermatophyte molds are a less common type of nail fungus but can still cause nail infections. These molds are often found in soil and decaying vegetation and can infect nails through small cuts or injuries.
It is important to note that nail fungus can also be caused by a combination of these types of fungi or by a secondary bacterial infection. Additionally, certain species of fungus may be more prevalent in different parts of the world, so the type of nail fungus may vary depending on geographic location.
Regardless of the type of nail fungus, treatment typically involves the use of topical or oral antifungal medications. It is important to seek medical attention for nail mould as it can be difficult to treat and may lead to permanent nail damage if left untreated.
How to Prevent Nail Fungus
Preventing nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, involves taking proactive measures to minimize exposure to fungal infections. There are several ways to prevent the spread of nail fungus, including proper hygiene and lifestyle habits.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent nail mould is to keep your nails clean and dry. This involves washing your hands and feet regularly with soap and water and thoroughly drying them afterward. It is also essential to keep your nails trimmed and avoid wearing nail polish for extended periods.
It is also important to avoid walking barefoot in public places such as gyms, locker rooms, and public pools, where the fungus can easily spread. If you must be in these areas, wearing flip flops or sandals can help reduce the risk of infection.
Wearing breathable shoes and socks made of natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, can also help prevent nail mould. Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes that trap moisture, as this creates an ideal environment for fungal growth.
Additionally, avoid sharing personal items such as nail clippers, towels, and shoes with others. Fungal infections can easily spread from person to person through these items.
If you have a history of nail mould or other fungal infections, it may be beneficial to use antifungal powders or sprays on your feet and in your shoes to help prevent reinfection.
In conclusion, preventing nail fungus involves proper hygiene and lifestyle habits. By keeping your nails clean and dry, avoiding exposure to fungal infections, and taking proactive measures to minimize the risk of infection, you can reduce your risk of developing nail mould. If you do develop a nail fungus, it is important to seek medical attention promptly to prevent further complications.
The Best Nail Fungus Treatments
Treating nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, can be challenging, and there are several treatment options available, including topical and oral medications, laser therapy, and surgery. The best treatment for nail mould depends on the severity of the infection and the individual’s overall health.
Topical antifungal medications, such as creams and ointments, are often the first line of treatment for mild cases of nail fungus. These medications are applied directly to the affected nail and can take several months to produce visible results.
For more severe cases of nail mould, oral antifungal medications may be necessary. These medications are taken by mouth and work from the inside out to eliminate the fungus. However, oral medications can have side effects and may interact with other medications, so they should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
Laser therapy is another option for treating nail mould. This treatment involves using a laser to heat and destroy the fungus. While laser therapy can be effective, it is also expensive and may require several sessions to achieve significant results.
Regardless of the treatment option, it is important to maintain good nail hygiene and follow the recommended treatment plan to prevent reinfection. It can take several months for the nail to fully heal, and it is important to continue treatment until the infection is completely eliminated.
In conclusion, the best treatment for nail fungus depends on the severity of the infection and the individual’s overall health. Topical and oral medications, laser therapy, and surgery are all viable treatment options, and it is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.