Nail fungal infection also known as onychomycosis and tinea unguium is one of the most common diseases of the nails and causes more than 50% of nail abnormalities. In this type of infection both the fingernails and toenails are susceptible, which usually manifests as discoloration and thickening of the nail and crumbling edges. This condition is much common in toenails.
About 6-8% of the adult population suffer from nail fungus infection. Nail fungus is more common in men than women; the risk is higher in elderly than in childhood. The factors than promote the growth of nail fungal infection include:
- Diminished blood circulation
- Slow growing nails
- Heavy perspiration
- Humid and moist work environment [wet kitchen Floor]
- Wearing socks and shoes that are moist or are not well ventilating
- Walking barefoot in damp public places like swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms.
- Previous injury or infection on the skin or nail
- Wearing tight footwear
Nail Fungus Causes
The microscopic organisms called fungi which do not require sunlight to survive cause nail fungal infections. The fungi that commonly cause nail fungal infection is dermatophyte, but some yeasts and molds also cause these infections.
Dermatophytes that cause nail fungal infection are Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton interdigitale, Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton violaceum, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton tonsurans, and Trichophyton soudanense. Common mold causes include Neoscytalidium, Aspergillus and Scopulariopsis.
These funguses enter the skin through tiny cuts or small separations between the nail and nail bed and cause nail fungus infection. They grow faster in the warm and moist environment of the nails.
Nail Fungus Symptoms
The nails after being infected with fungus typically become thick, brittle, crumbly, ragged, distorted, dull, and darker or yellowish in color. When infected nails separate from the nail bed, the patient may also experience onycholysis. Even nail fungal infections result in pain in the toes or fingertips and emit a slight foul odor.
The other symptoms associated with nail fungal infections are fungus-free skin lesions called dermatophytids which can cause rashes or itchiness in an area of the body that is not infected with the fungus.
Nail Fungus Diagnosis
To diagnose the nail fungal infection, doctors usually examine debris that is scraped from underneath the nails which will be used in tests such as a potassium hydroxide (KOH) smear or a fungal culture. Treating nail fungus infection is a very long process. You can take anti-fungal medicines, topical ointments, and alternative therapies. There are various creams and ointments available in the stores but are not very effective for treatment.
The oral medications for nail fungal infection are Itraconazole (Sporanox), Fluconazole (Diflucan), and Terbinafine (Lamisil). These medicines take up to four months to fully replace the infected nail with uninfected one.
To treat topical nail fungus, you have to take anti-fungal lacquer or apply nail polish such as ciclopirox (Penlac) in addition to other creams. These topical remedies clear nail fungal infections but do not fully cure the infection.
In some extreme cases, patients have to remove the complete nail.
Easy and effective home Remedies to Cure Nail Fungus natural way:
Tea tree oil: It is a great natural antiseptic and has anti-fungal property that helps to treat nail fungus. To treat nail fungus with tea tree oil, take required amount natural tea tree oil in a cup and apply it in the fungi affected areas using cotton ball. Then rub it for 10-15 minutes gently.
Apple cider vinegar: Pour two parts of water in a cup and add 1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar in it. then mix it and soak your fungi affected nail for 10-30 minutes. Before washing it off, allow the nail to dry well.
Baking soda: Take 1 tbsp of baking soda in a cup and mix it with 3 tbsp warm water and make a paste. Apply this paste on the fungi infected area and leave it for 30 minutes.
Garlic: Garlic oil, garlic paste or garlic raw extract are the best home remedy to treat nail fungus. Before applying garlic paste, soak your nail in the vinegar or warm water solution.
Natural Oregano oil has analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. It is one of the best home remedies for treating nail fungus. Mix 3 drops of oregano oil with 2 drops of olive oil and apply it with the cotton ball in the fungi affected nail and leave it to dry.
Lemon Juice: Lemon contains antibacterial and anti-fungal agents. Take a fresh lemon juice in a cup and mix a little warm water in it, then soak your nail for 10 minutes.
Orange peel: Take few orange peels and blend them to make a paste. Now wash your nail with warm water and apply this paste in the fungi affected area.
Nail Fungus Prevention
To prevent nail fungus infections, you should maintain proper hygiene. Some tips to prevent this infection:
- Keep nails short, dry, and clean
- Wear socks that allow the skin to breathe.
- Use anti-fungal sprays or powders
- Wear rubber gloves to avoid overexposure to water
- Avoid picking or biting nails
- Wear shoes or sandals in public places and pools
- Reduce the use of nail polish and artificial nails
- Wash hands thoroughly after touching infected nails
You will have to keep using these Natural herbs even after the Nail Fungus goes away. Just keep using it for few months to avoid re infection. Always try to prevent the condition that can bring back the symptoms. If you do not experience any effectiveness even after few weeks then consult your local physician.