Nail fungus doesn’t look nice. In fact it’s ugly-looking. Not only that but it’s unhealthy too. It’s not so bad that you’re likely to end up in hospital if you suffer from it but you should still look after your health as best you can. And that includes the health of your nails. So let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of nail fungus.
What is nail fungus?
Nail fungus infections are actually microscopic organisms that live in the dark.
These organisms can be yeast, mold, or a fungi called dermatophytes. They get into tiny, near invisible cuts. They can also get into the small space between your toe and your toenail.
You can catch nail fungus from the shower or swimming pool. The fungus likes warm, moist areas.
This makes the gap between your toe and the nail an ideal environment for it to grow and breed. And if you wear damp shoes all the time you’ve got an increased chance of catching toe nail fungus.
You can also get nail fungus as a result of an infection that’s left untreated.
Nail fungus is more common on your toenails than your fingernails. This is because your toes are in the dark more often than your fingers. If you leave the fungus untreated it breeds and the fungus gets worse.
Symptoms of nail fungus
If you have nail fungus, the first thing you’re likely to notice is a change in the color of your nails. This starts with a lack of shine in the toe nail. Over time the nail will become duller and then turn a yellowish color. Or sometimes the clear nail may become white.
The shape of the nail will also start to change, often resulting in wavy or bumpy looking nails. Even when you cut them on a regular basis, nails infected with fungus look ragged and cracked.
The nail will become thicker, and may flake in layers. Sometimes the nail even lifts up from the nail bed which can be painful.
You’ll also often notice an odor from your nail. This odor comes from the fungus, and not the feet themselves. It’s especially strong under the toe nail in the matter that can build up between the toe nail and the toe.
Nail fungus treatment
There are many nail fungus treatment options to choose from. These include creams, sprays, liquids, ointments, and such. But each is often as disappointing as the other. Treating nail fungus can often be a frustrating experience. Repeated treatments often don’t show much improvement.
There are some oral medications that work well. These include Diflucan, Lamisil, and Sporanox. Taking oral medication helps a new, healthy nail to form. It may take up to twelve weeks of taking the medication and another four months before the new nail grows in.
Anti-fungal treatments in the forms of lacquers and tinctures are also available. You paint these onto the nail and the affected areas of the toe.
Tea tree oil and lavender or apple cider vinegar are also often used to treat fungus. Soaking in vinegar for 15-20 minutes helps to increase the acidity that kills the fungus. You can apply the mixture of tea tree oil and lavender to the affected areas using cotton swabs.
Prevention of nail fungus
Even though there are many treatments available the best option is prevention. If you’re careful to avoid exposure you will be much better off. Allowing moisture to get under acrylic nails will cause fungus. So preventing the nails from lifting is one way to prevent fungus.
Keeping the nails clean and dry is also important. Fungus grows fast in warm, dark, damp areas. So avoid putting your nails in such situations. There are also powders you can put in your shoes if needed.
Keeping your shoes and socks on in public areas helps prevent nail fungus too. If you do get fungus, keep it from spreading by washing your hands often.
There are many ways you can avoid nail fungus. If you’re exposed to fungus you should wash and dry well. You may also want to use tea tree oil on the nails to keep the fungus from spreading. And you should make sure you wear rubber gloves anytime you have to touch infected nails.