Peeling Nails

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Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is one of the most common toenail infections and constitutes more than half of such infections. This infection can affect the nails of hands and feet. But, toenail infection is more common. Onychomycosis is the clinical term used for fungal nail infection.

Signs and symptoms.

Toenail fungus presents itself in the form of variety of symptoms like:

  • The thickening of toenails is one of the most important symptoms of toenail fungus.
  • The discoloration of nails is also very common. The nails become white, yellow or green.
  • As the infection spreads, pieces of nails start to peel off from the main nail body i.e. the nails become very brittle.
  • In the advanced stages of infection, skin under and around the nails becomes inflamed and painful.
  • The nail beds become yellow or white in color.
  • The skin close to the nails starts to peel off.
  • Toenail fungus also causes some psychological symptoms, like complex of being ugly, especially in females.

Causes.

Fungus is the causative agent of this infection. The strains of fungus causing this infection vary in western countries and tropics. The causative agents of toenail fungus can be divided into two major groups:

  • Causative agents in western countries:

Dermatophytes, a sub division of fungus, are the basic causative agents of toenail infection in western countries. This group includes members like:

Trichophyton rubrum.

Trichophyton interdigitale.

Epidermophyton floccosum.

Cattle ring worm fungus.

  • Causative agents in tropics:

This group includes fungus that loves humid climate, that’s why it’s commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions. This group of toenail fungus is called nondermatophtes, Candida is an exception. The major members of this group include:

Candida is an exception, as it’s a dermatophyte, yet found in humid areas.

Aspergillus.

Scytalidium.

Scopulariopsis.

Risk factors.

Following are the risk factors that increase the chances of toenail fungus development:

  • Aging is one of the most important risk factors of toenail fungal infection because of several reasons.

Aging decreases the blood supply of nails making them more susceptible to infection.

Over the years exposure to fungus increases the chances of this infection.

Thickening of nails become very prominent with aging and increases the chances of development of this infection.

  • Sex difference seems to play an important role since this infection is more common in males than in females.
  • Sometimes hereditary factors also make a person prone to such infections.
  • Humid climate also increases the chances of toenail fungus.
  • Wearing shoes and socks for a long time, without letting the sweat dry properly, also increases the risk.
  • Going bare feet in areas like gyms, toilet floors and public swimming pools also make a person susceptible to this infection.
  • Psoriasis is a skin condition that is considered a risk factor for toenail fungal infection.
  • Diabetes may lead to the development of this infection.
  • Poor immune system increases the chance of fungal infection by several folds.
  • Impairment in the circulation to the peripheral parts of the body may promote the growth of toenail fungus.

Treatments.

Several treatments are available that can help you get rid of toenail fungus. Such remedies include:

  • Home remedies.

Following are the basic homemade remedies that can help you get rid of toenail fungus:

Mix equal amounts of olive oil and tea tree oil and scrub this mixture on the affected nails for 20 minutes.

Orange juice has got anti-fungal properties. Apply this juice between the toes of feet and on the nail beds.

Add white vinegar in Luke warm and dip the affected nail in this solution for 15 minutes each day till the infection goes away.

Ginger is one of the most commonly used anti-fungal agents. Mix ginger oil with white vinegar and apply this mixture on the affected toe.

Take equal amounts of Lavender and tree tea oil and mix them well. Apply this mixture on the toenails with fungus for 5-10 minutes each day.

Citrus acid, present in lemon juice, has anti-fungal properties. Apply lemon juice on the affected area to get rid of toenail fungus.

  • Medicines.

Two types of medicines are beneficial for eliminating toenail fungus. These medicines include:

Systemic anti-fungal medicines like itraconzole, terbinafine and clotrimazole.

Topical medicines are also available. Such medicines include ciclopirox or amorolfine.

In most of the cases, a combination of systemic medicines and topical anti-fungal drugs is advised in order to get better results. However, the elimination of fungus from nails is very difficult and best results are only seen with regular use of these medicine.

  • Heat.

Most of the researches have shown that fungus is sensitive to heat changes. A high temperature ranging from 40-60 degree Celsius can destroy the fungus. So, a focused beam of laser is very effective in eliminating the toenail fungus.

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