If you notice that the nails on your hands or feet have changed color, become opaque and suddenly begin to thicken, then they may have overtaken a fungal infection. This disease is called onychomycosis. The word comes from two Greek ónyx – nail and mýkes – mushroom . Dermatomycetes (a group of fungi parasitizing on the skin), mold and yeast can cause damage.
It is believed that nail fungus is a secondary infection. Initially, the skin of the feet or hands is affected. The probability of infection is affected by climatic conditions, age, gender, concomitant diseases, and even the profession.
Fungal infection most often develops in conditions of heat and humidity. This contributes to the tropical and subtropical climate. But it is also quite common in temperate and cold climates. This is due to the need to wear warm shoes, which creates the same conditions of elevated temperature and humidity.
Most often, nail fungus is found in adults and the elderly. Recently, there have been cases of diseases in children and adolescents. It is believed that every 10 years, the risk of contracting onychomycosis increases 2.5 times. Contributing factors are a decrease in the rate of growth of nails, malnutrition of the nail bed, vascular disorders that appear with age.
Men suffer from nail fungus, especially on the legs, 1.5-3 times more often than women. But, oddly enough, women are more likely to see a doctor for help.
The most common factors predisposing to the occurrence of onychomycosis are circulatory disorders in peripheral vessels, obesity, foot deformities, immunodeficiency states and diabetes mellitus. In diabetes, the likelihood of illness rises to 30%. The use of certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, antibiotics, and antitumor drugs, also affects.
It is noted that residents of megacities with developed industries are more likely to be affected by fungal infections of the nails than the inhabitants of rural areas. By occupation, miners, workers in the metallurgical industry, and technical personnel of nuclear power plants are most affected. One hundred is associated with factors such as dust, ionizing radiation, gas contamination, high temperature, etc. Also at risk are bath workers, massage therapists, laundry staff, medical staff, military and athletes.
If you do not belong to these professional groups, it does not mean that you are protected from nail fungus. Visiting pools, baths and saunas, public showers, massage rooms also puts you at risk.
Symptoms of nail fungus
Modern foreign and Russian dermatologists use the following classification of the disease:
- Distal or distal – lateral onychomycosis. The most common form of nail fungus. The defeat begins with the edges of the nail. The fungus penetrates under the free (far, distal) edge or lateral (lateral) fold. The main processes in this infection do not occur in the nail plate itself, but under it in the nail bed. The nail loses its transparency, becomes yellowish or whitish. The edge of the nail begins to crumble, thinning. Although the nail looks thickened due to the fact that under it there is an excessive development of a layer of the skin called horny (hyperkeratosis). For a long time, such a lesion can occur in the form of a marginal one. It most often looks like white strips going down from the free edge of the nail.
- Proximal subungal onychomycosis. This is a rare form of the disease. The fungus is introduced from the side of the posterior skin roller, where the cuticle is removed during manicure and pedicure. Then the lesion covers the matrix of the nail (its visible part is the hole). In the classic version of this kind of onychomycosis, a white spot first appears in the region of the hole, and then it spreads to the entire nail, reaching its free edge.
- White superficial onychomycosis. It appears in the form of white spots, stripes on the nail plate, going from the back roller to the free edge. Over time, they become larger, grow and become yellow.
- Total dystrophic onychomycosis . Total – means covering the entire nail. Dystrophic – in this case means the destruction of the nail plate. She looks very thickened, yellowish – gray, uneven. It can be destroyed partially or completely. In most cases, subungual hyperkeratosis of varying severity is observed.
Do not wait for the manifestation of all the signs of fungal damage to the nail, and especially its final stages. If you find yourself with similar signs, then this is an occasion to consult a specialist.
In addition to the external signs of nail fungus, the doctor will also consider laboratory data on scraping the affected tissues. The laboratory will conduct a microscopic examination, identify the pathogen. Then they will sow to more accurately determine which variety of fungi caused the disease.
Nail fungus treatment
Fungal infection is very persistent, it is necessary to take its treatment extremely seriously. After all, this is not just a cosmetic defect, but a disease.
Currently, the media is a huge amount of advertising of antifungal drugs. Basically, they are all external effects (ointments, gels, solutions).
Be skeptical of advertising slogans about a quick and absolute cure, since these tools do not completely cure nail fungus. They provide only symptom relief. Therefore, the most relevant and effective is a systematic approach to this problem.
Not only external but also internal agents (tablets) are used. Such a complex treatment can only be prescribed by a doctor. According to recent data, the most effective are those containing terbinafine and itraconazole. The treatment is long. The course of drugs can take from 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the disease. The result will be visible when a healthy nail is fully grown. It takes several months. Among other things, antifungal drugs have contraindications.
Be sure to consult your doctor. Do not self-medicate to avoid unpleasant consequences.