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
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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