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What is Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis, or nail infection, is a persistent fungal

infection of the nail bed, matrix or plate. It is the most common

nail disorder in adults, accounting for one third of all fungal skin

infections and up to 50 percent of all nail diseases. Toenails are

affected more often than fingernails. The infection can cause

nails to become yellow or discolored. Advanced infection

causes thick, brittle nails that often separate from the nail bed.

It can also cause discomfort whenwearing shoes or walking.

What are the causes of Onychomycosis?

The most common cause of onychomycosis is dermatophyte

fungus that invades the dead tissue of skin or nails. Other

causes include contact with certain moulds or species of

yeasts. The overall prevalence of onychomycosis ranges from

2 to 14 percent of the population.

Where can you get Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis is caused by contact with infective fungal

agents Since these agents are present everywhere in our

environment, everyone potentially is at risk for infection.

Common sources for infection could include public showers,

swimming pools, nail spas and gyms. Nail trauma and tight

fitting shoes can also lead to infection.

What are the symptoms?

One or more of the following symptoms may indicate that you

suffer from onychomycosis. Distorted, thickened or discolored

nails, yellow or white streaks on or under the nails, brittle,

crumbly or ragged nails and nails that have separated from the

underlying skin.

What are the treatment options?

Current treatment options include topical drugs and oral

antifungal drugs. Topical drugs are applied directly to the nails

daily for a period of 6 to 12 months. This treatment is often

ineffective because the drug has difficulty passing through

the nail to reach the site of the infection. Oral drugs can be

effective and are usually taken for a period of 6 to 12 months.

However, there are many side effects associated with these

drugs and in some cases weekly blood tests are required to

monitor liver function.


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