The fingernail fungus involves an infection on the bed of the nail plate, under the surface of the nail. Its symptoms include thickening of fingernail and a yellowish discoloration, disfiguring, and splitting. Eventually the nail becomes rough. Medically, nail fungus is known as “Onychomycosis”.
Causes of a Fingernail Fungus Infection
The fingernail fungus is caused by organisms such as; dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds. Nearly 90% of these nail infections are caused by dermatophytes. Only 8% of these are caused by yeast infections. A mere 2% are caused by molds. Treating the fingernail fungus is usually difficult, since the fingernail fungus infection is actually embedded within the nail; hence is hard to reach.
The nail does not receive enough blood supply and grows at a slower rate. Trading the infection is also a very slow process and it can sometimes take up to one year to fully remove the fungus. There are several ways of treating the fungi, either through medication, lasers or surgical and chemical interventions.
Fingernail fungus treatment is done using oral and topical anti-fungal methods of medication. Drugs are very effective in treating these issues and if the infection is not too deep, then they can cure it in a relatively short period of time. They are usually administered for 3 months, to standardize the treatment.
Terbinafine is taken for 3 months each day and Itraconazole is prescribed in pulse doses (one week in a month), for three months. They have very minimal side effects with few contraindications like congestive cardiac failure and liver diseases.
Itraconazole is usually avoided due to its interactions with some antibiotics like Erythromycin and also some other drugs, usually used for asthma. Usually, 50% – 75% of cases respond positively to oral anti-fungal therapy, while 20 – 25% of these can recur. When medication against the fingernail fungus is combined with surgical treatments, duration and side effects are drastically reduced.
Laser and Surgical Treatment
- Laser Interventions
A Noveon type of laser is used to treat the fingernail fungus. This laser is used in some cataract surgeries as well and has proven to be very effective in curing several types of issues.
- Surgical and Chemical Treatment
The nail can be surgically or chemically removed. When chemically removed, a 40-50% urea compound is used in the removal of the infected nail. It is actually not a painful procedure. When surgically removed, the infected nail will also need to be treated with oral medication, to prevent any further issues with the fingernail fungus.
- Preventing the Infection
Since second fingernail fungus infections are possible and common, it is better to prevent rather than treat. Firstly, avoid wet socks and keep your nails dry. Secondly, your shoes should fit your feet and not be tight. Also, always cut your toenails to keep them short on a regular basis.
Correctly trimming your nails is crucial in preventing fungal infections, therefore, if you are not very good at doing this, it is recommended to go to a specialist. Additionally, do not share your shoes or nail care tools with anyone else, as fingernail fungus infections can be transferred from one person to another. Visit a doctor whenever you suspect anything and follow the recommended treatment, in order to remove the infection as easily as possible.