Nail fungus, or the fungal infection of the nails, is a very distressing condition for its sufferers. Nail fungus will cause the nails or toenails of the patient to become discolored, unsightly, and possibly even emit an odor. At the very least, it is embarrassing for the patient, and in severe cases, can cause pain. Treatment of nail fungus often takes a period of time extending over several months, so it is important to get treated as soon as symptoms develop.
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, occurs when a fungus infects either the fingernails or toenails of a patient. Fungi can also cause other related conditions such as ringworm and athlete’s foot. When these fungi are introduced to the skin, they infect it and grow into a distressing condition. Some people are hereditarily more susceptible to fungal infections, and others may see the condition after an injury to the nail or surrounding skin that allows the fungus to infect the area. Nail fungus can also be spread by nail salons that do not properly sanitize their equipment after use.
Nails themselves are hardened skin cells, mostly made up of keratin, a protein. These living cells form layers that form the nail. When these cells are compromised by a fungal infection, there are numerous negative symptoms. Beginning usually as a small discolored patch in the nail, the fungus will spread and change the appearance of the nail. The nail may change color entirely to yellow, the layers of the nail may begin to crumble and the edges grow brittle, and the nail itself may become distorted and misshapen. Left untreated, the fungal infection will begin to emit a foul odor, and in very severe cases, the nail will begin to separate from the nail bed. This can be painful, and treatment is more difficult at this stage.
There are several treatment methods to rid a fungal infection. Over the counter topical creams are easily available, but they are not usually effective. The antifungal agent in the creams usually cannot penetrate the nail bed to the source of the problem. Prescription oral anti-fungal medications are effective, and one of the best treatment methods available to patients. Common brands are Lamisil and Sporanox. A medication treatment course typically takes several monhts to fully rid the fungal infection. In very severe, painful, and advanced cases of nail fungus, oral medications may not be enough. In these cases, a surgical treatment may be necessary to fully eliminate the source of the problem. Once the fungal infection is removed, by any treatment method, a healthy new nail will grow out after the course of about 4 months. This time will vary per patient.
If you have noticed symptoms of a nail fungus infection, please contact us at Dyson Dermatology. Dr. Senait Dyson is one of the top dermatologists in Tucson, AZ, and will be able to help treat your nail fungus before it grows worse. Contact us for a consultation today.