Q. What is Onychomycosis?
A. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail. It can occur on the nails of both hands and feet, but we are concerned with the infection which occur on the toenails. Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a fungus that belongs to a group of fungi called dermatophytes, but yeasts and moulds also can be responsible. All of these microscopic organisms live in warm, moist environments, including swimming pools and showers. They can invade your skin through tiny invisible cuts or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed..
Infection with nail fungus is more common in toenails than in fingernails because toenails are often confined in a dark, warm, moist environment inside your shoes where fungi can thrive. Another reason may be the diminished blood circulation to the toes as compared with the fingers
Q. What causes Onychomycosis?
A. These infections are very common and are considered to be due to the slowing down of the immune system as we age, but also occur in sports people, due to trainers and anywhere in fact where people share the same floor surface and walk around in bare feet. Infections of nail fungus account for about half of all nail disorders. These infections usually develop on nails continually exposed to warm, moist environments, such as sweaty shoes or shower floors. Nail fungus isn’t the same as athlete’s foot, which primarily affects the skin of the feet, but at times the two may co-exist and can be caused by the same type of fungus
Q. What does it look like?
A. The nail edge thickens and becomes brittle in appearance. The nail discolouration can range in colour from white through to yellow, green, brown or black, which is caused by debris building up under your nail.
Q Where do they occur?
A. Anywhere on the nail, but commonly on the free edge of the big toenail growing down the inside towards the matrix (half moon) of the nail. It may occur on just the big toe nail or as multiple nail infections.
Q Does Onychomycosis hurt?
A. Generally only when the nail thickens so much that it becomes uncomfortable wearing shoes, or when the thickened nail edge digs into the skin surrounding the nail, which in turn allows bacteria to enter and becomes infected.
Q. Do only elderly people get Onychomycosis?A. It is true to say that onychomycosis commonly occurs in the 60+ age group. However, it does occur in younger people, and this is especially happening now with more people attending leisure centres and playing more sport. You’re also more likely to develop nail fungus if you have a minor skin or nail injury, diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system.
How can you can reduce the risk of fungal nail infection?
To help prevent nail fungus and reduce recurrent infections, practice good hand and foot hygiene by following these steps:
Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Thoroughly dry your hands and feet, including between your toes, after bathing.
Wear appropriate socks. Synthetic socks that wick away moisture may keep your feet dryer than cotton or wool socks (you can also wear synthetic socks inside of other socks). Change them often, especially if your feet sweat excessively. Take your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise. Alternate closed-toe shoes with open-toed shoes.
Use an anti-fungal spray or powder. Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes.
Don’t trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs access to your skin and nails.
Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes around public pools, showers and locker rooms.
Give up nail polish and artificial nails. Although it may be tempting to hide nail fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.
For more information: http://cherquefarmfootclinic.webs.com/