Fungal infection of the nails is very common in both fingernails and toenails, although, it is more frequently the toes that are affected as fungal organisms are attracted to dark and humid environments such as inside a shoe.
Fungal infections can cause the nails to thicken, discolour, deform, crumble and split. Often they are of cosmetic concern as they are unsightly, and at times, painful.
Fungal nails can otherwise be known as Tinea of the nails.
Fungal nail is caused by fungal organisms that invade the nail through the nail bed or nail plate. The fungus may infect a nail damaged by trauma and can often spread from the skin to the nails and from person to person. The nail itself provides a protective covering that allows the fungus to grow underneath on the nail bed unimpeded. These fungi thrive in a warm and moist environment.
There are several factors that may put you at increased risk of developing fungal toenails. These include:
Trauma to the nail. Acute or repetitive micro-trauma such as rubbing.
Poor hygiene – not drying off the feet thoroughly after bathing or exercise
Living in a warm environment
People with a compromised immune system – including people with Diabetes and HIV.
Poor peripheral circulation
Warm, moist environment from occlusive footwear
Working in a wet environment
Toenail fungus is rare in children but the incidence increases as you age. This condition is most common in people aged over 60.
Diagnosis of Fungal Nails
Clinical diagnosis of fungal nail is based on a physical examination by your podiatrist. Several nail disorders may mimic fungal nail infections such as psoriasis.
If you suspect you have developed a fungal toenail infection it is advised that you see your podiatrist who can professionally diagnose and treat the condition.
Treatment options vary from routine care to topical medication, oral medication, and medical laser treatment. Should you want to know more, Riverton Podiatrists are here to assist.