Nail fungus is an infection of the nails and the skin around them. It causes the infected nail to discolor, thicken and smell. Although anyone can develop nail fungus, there are certain people who are more at risk than others. Men are affected more than women, and those over 65 years old are more prone to develop nail fungus because of already poor circulation and weakened immune system. People with existing illnesses such as diabetes are more likely to develop this infection than those who don’t.
Toenails develop nail fungus more frequently than fingernails because they are often enclosed in shoes and socks, and fungi thrive in moist and warm areas. Fungi develop over a period of time and they gradually damage the nails and the skin around them. To be able to distinguish if what you have is really nail fungus, it is imperative to consult a doctor as there are other infections or illnesses that show the same symptoms.
What Causes Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus is caused by the same fungi that cause ringworm, athlete’s foot and jock itch. Molds and yeasts are also two of the culprits that cause nail fungus. If you have ever been in contact of any of these knowingly or unknowingly, you are most likely to develop infection on one or several of your nails. Nail fungus starts as a small dark speck under the nail, and if you neglect it, it may eventually develop into a full-fledged infection that may take several weeks or months to heal.
Preventing Nail Fungus
To be able to shy away from nail fungus, you have to take great caution against coming in contact with anything that might harbor fungi, such as in nail salons. Make sure that the equipment are cleaned and sterilized thoroughly before using them on your nails, otherwise the infection may be passed on to you if the previous customer has it. The best way to avoid this is to bring your own nail equipment. Walking barefoot in public places such as gyms, poolside areas and the like will make you more susceptible to infection. When wearing shoes, take time to let your feet breathe by removing your socks and switching your shoes with slippers for a time.
Treating Nail Fungus
As soon as you consult a doctor, you will be prescribed the right medication or treatment that will depend on the severity of the infection and the type of nail fungus that you have. Patience is required in treating nail fungus as it may take a long time to heal. As long as the nail is not yet completely replaced by a new, infection-free one, you are not yet healed. And it may recur again if you are not careful of your hygiene.
Nail fungus is one of the most common infections that adults suffer from, and there are many treatment options to choose from. They can range from free to very cheap (home remedies) to within your budget (prescription medication) to very expensive (nail removal surgery).