What to do if there's a nail fungus, among us.
Nail fungus, also known by its scientific term Onychomycosis, is very unsightly condition to contract! The nail can become discolored, malformed, detached and even crumbly. Our nails are good barriers against infection though, but once infected, these good natural barriers can also help to keep the infection in. Surprisingly very common, fungal infection of the nails can also work psychologically on a person. Many people suffer sheer embarrassment from being infected and often go to great lengths to hide their now less attractive nails.
When nail fungus infection of the nails is caused by parasitic fungus (dermatophytes), the tiny organisms at work are usually Tinea Unguium and can also be referred to as tinea of the nails. These organisms can infect both fingernails and toenails, but are 6 – 7 times more likely to infect toenails. This is because the required environment for such organisms to thrive is one that is dark, moist and warm. Consider the situation our feet are usually kept in for most of the day.
Enclosed shoes pretty much restrict all light from reaching our feet thus producing the necessary darkness. In conjunction with our socks, they also restrict heat from escaping thereby producing the necessary warmth. Socks, and the inners of some shoes, also absorb the sweat from our feet. This combination of socks and enclosed shoes also restrict evaporation thus our feet are usually kept nice and moist. It can easily be seen why toenails are much more likely to become infected.
Nail fungus infections usually cause nails to become thickened and/or cloudy. They may also develop a yellow-green or dark yellow-brown appearance. White spots can also begin to form. The fungus can also cause the nail to become crumbly and rough with grooves, tiny holes and lines becoming present. The nail plate can even begin to become detached from the nail bed.
Firstly, infection begins at the nail edges and nail base and can spread until the entire nail plate is infected. The nail folds (flesh surrounding the nail) have also been known to become irritated and have discomfort, itchiness and even pain and redness. The nail folds have in some cases been known to bleed and become detached from the nail plate. Depending on the kind of infection, a foul smell may also be produced.
Unless the infection is severe, usually no other bodily symptoms or pain become present but some people can develop Dermatophytids. These are a kind of allergic reaction to the presence of the nail fungus. They are lesions that are free of fungus that form on the skin in reaction to fungus anywhere in the body. The lesions take the form of a rash or itching and develop at locations where the fungus is not present.
Dermatophytes, the leading culprits behind nail fungus infections, can be transmitted through contact, either direct or indirect with infected skin. Exfoliated skin that has fallen onto clothes, rugs, socks, theater seats, towels or pretty much anything can cause infections to others. Some types of dermatophytes can still live and cause infections for many months after exfoliation.
It is necessary to be very careful when going into any environment that is conducive to fungus. Areas that are notorious for promoting fungus infections are bathrooms, shower stalls and locker rooms. Sometimes when the air is moist and people’s feet are exposed, nail fungus can be transmitted.
To help prevent nail fungus it is necessary to limit the conditions that are conducive to fungus growth – darkness, warmth and moisture. When these are combined, they produce an environment that fungus can thrive in.
To limit the combination of these three, wear open shoes more often. Also increase your usage of lighter shades of nail polish that can let sunlight through your nail plate. Try to limit as well, the amount of time artificial nails spend covering your nail plate as these can restrict light from getting through your nails. Artificial nails can also trap moisture for long periods so fungus has time to grow. Also be very discerning when selecting a pedicurist. Make sure they are properly qualified and that they properly disinfect all equipment used. Be sure also to properly disinfect all instruments used if you are giving yourself a pedicure.
Every so often, leave the artificial nails off and either use a very light shade of polish or go bare to let your nails bask in the natural sunlight for a while. When using public showers, bath stalls or showers you are not sure are totally clean, always try to wear flip flops so that your feet don’t come into direct contact with the floors as this is a very common area to find fungus. Avoid also, sharing footwear with others.
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