Onychomycosis is a fungal nail infection similar to a yeast infection. The condition may manifest as brittle, crumbling or loosening of the finger or toe nail and may include white or yellowish streaks on the sides.
About 50 percent of people who suffer from thickened, discolored fingernails and toenails are experiencing a fungal infection and the overall rate of occurrence accounts for about 3 percent of the total population. Onychomycosis is mostly commonly found among people living in developed countries and is more common in men who are older than 40.
The condition may occur in any component of the nail unit, including the matrix, bed or plate. It is not life-threatening but can frequently cause discomfort, pain or disfigurement and could result in serious physical and professional limitations. Because of the likelihood of disfigurement, there are serious implications for psychosocial and emotional side effects.
Onychomycosis represents about one-third of all fungal skin infections, but because only about half of nail dystrophies are fungus-related, diagnosis should be confirmed with a potassium hydroxide culture or histology before treatment is instituted.
This condition is most often seen in adults and the occurrence rate may be increased by getting manicures or pedicures with improperly cleaned equipment, sustaining an injury or deformity, suffering a disease or from having an under- performing immune system, having prolonged moist skin and wearing too-tight or un-breathable footwear.
A fungal infection like Onychomycosis is not adequately treated with over-the-counter ointments, so consultation with a medical professional is recommended if the condition is suspected. Recommended prescribed medications to correct the condition include Fluconazole, Griseofulvin, Terbinafine and Itraconazole. Treatment time for Onychomycosis is shorter for fingernails but could last for up to three months in some cases before non-infected nail growth occurs.
Even with proper doctor-prescribed treatment, Onychomycosis is difficult to treat. Medication is successful in treating the disorder only about half the time and it is not uncommon for the fungus to return and need to be treated subsequently. Complications may also occur and permanent nail damage is a possibility as are the development of skin infections such as Paronychia, which forms around the nail and is typically painful, red and swollen or may involve pus-filled blisters.
Prevention of Onychomycosis is achievable through proper care of nails, keeping skin clean and dry, washing hands thoroughly after contact with any type of fungal infection and by not sharing utensils used for manicures and pedicures.