Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fungal nail infection

Many people suffer from discolored and distorted toenails. While all too common, there are many causes behind the changes to toenails; fungal or chronic bacteria infections, eczema, psoriasis, and even trauma to the toenail cause distortion of the nail.

Fungal infections are the most common cause of yellowed, thickened and/or deformed toenails and can affect one to all toenails, but cannot spread in the body via the blood stream. Fungal nail infections are slow developing infections that normally go unnoticed, but over time the infection can cause the nail to become distorted, thickened, and brittle in appearance. 

Fungal infections are the result of walking barefoot in public areas and showers with a moist environment that allows fungus to thrive. Sweaty and moist shoes that do not dry out can cause a person to contract an infection. Dermatophytes, the same organisms responsible for athlete’s foot, are can also infect toenails and skin. However, people with diabetes and immunocompromised individuals are more likely to contract these types of infections. 

Fungal infections are easy to diagnose, but can be difficult to treat. Early detection is key to lessening the length of treatment and can increase the chances of having a normal looking nail. Acute infections can be treated with over the counter medication; however, chronic infections can almost always be treated with prescription medications. Laser treatment is also an option in both types of infections. But, chronic infections normally allow little chance for a normal looking nail again even after clearing infection. If you noticed changes in your nail appearance see a podiatrist.

Tips on preventing fungal nail infections:
1.    Change socks frequently if your feet sweat a lot
2.    Bleach socks when washing
3.    Be cautious when walking barefoot, especially in public setting

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