Nail fungus is a fungal infection that occurs in the fingernails or toenails. This condition, which is also known as tinea unguium or onchomycosis, can be experienced by anyone, especially the elderly. Even so , nail fungus is generally not a dangerous condition.
At first, nail fungus is often marked by white or yellow spots on the tips of the nails. Over time, the nails will change color, thicken, and the tips will become brittle.
Causes of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus or onchomycosis is caused by a fungal infection . The fungus that causes this infection is generally a dermatophyte fungus.
There are several risk factors that make a person more susceptible to nail fungus, one of which is increasing age. Nail fungus is more prone to occur in the elderly because elderly nails tend to be brittle and dry. This causes the nails to crack easily so that the fungus can enter them.
Apart from the age factor, there are several other factors that can increase a person's risk of developing nail fungus, namely:
- Have poor blood circulation, for example due to peripheral arterial disease
- Have a weak immune system, for example due to suffering from HIV / AIDS or diabetes
- Sweat a lot
- Suffering from athlete 's foot
- Suffering from nail psoriasis , due to frequent injuries to the skin around the nails.
- Often walks barefoot in places that are damp and full of people, such as in public bathrooms or areas around swimming pools
- Have a job or hobby that involves frequent contact with water.
Nail Fungus Symptoms
Although it can attack the fingernails, nail fungus or tinea unguium appears more often on the toenails. Some of the abnormalities in the nails mentioned below can indicate the presence of nail fungus:
- Thick nails
- White spots appear on the nails
- Nails change color to white, brownish yellow, or black
- Nails become rough and brittle
- The nails are separated from the skin of the finger where they are attached
- Occurs an unpleasant odor on the nails
When to see a doctor
If abnormalities occur in the nails as mentioned above, consult a dermatologist to get treatment. Treatment of nail fungus takes a long time. During treatment, patients need to continue to control the doctor to find out the progress of the disease and evaluate treatment.
In diabetics , carry out routine control to the doctor to prevent further diabetes complications, such as nail fungal infections.
Diagnosis of Nail Fungus
Diagnosis of nail fungus is done by examining the nails to see which nail abnormalities appear. The doctor will also carry out a supporting examination in the form of a nail scraper, to confirm the diagnosis. The nail scraping sample will then be taken to the laboratory for further research.
Nail Fungus Treatment
The type and length of treatment for nail fungus depends on the severity of the nail fungus infection and the patient's overall health. To treat it, doctors can prescribe antifungal drugs in the form of:
Doctors can give ciclopirox which is shaped like nail polish. This nail coating drug is used by rubbing it on the nails and the skin around it, once a day.
Every 7 days, the patient needs to clean the nail bed with alcohol before covering it again with ciclopirox . If needed, this nail coating medication can be used daily for 1 year according to doctor's advice.
Nail cream medicine
The doctor can give you an antifungal cream to apply. However, before applying antifungal cream, sufferers need to thin the nails first with a special lotion or with a nail file. Nails also need to be soaked first to soften.
Antifungal oral medication
Oral antifungal medications, such as terbinafine and itraconazole , can clear up infections more quickly than topical medications. Antifungal medications are generally taken for 6–12 weeks, but it can take more than 4 months for the nails to return to normal.
Treatment of nail fungus can take up to several months. Even though the condition has improved, it is possible that the nail fungus infection can recur.
In addition to drugs, nail fungus treatment can be combined with surgery. The doctor will first remove the problem nail so that antifungal medication can be applied directly to the underside of the infected nail.
If the infection gets worse, the doctor may recommend removing the nail permanently.
Nail Fungus Complications
Severe toenail fungus can cause permanent damage to the nails. This damage can cause a serious infection that can spread to the skin of the feet or hands ( cellulitis ).
The complications above are more prone to occur if people with nail fungus have weak immune systems, for example as a result of using immunosuppressant drugs or suffering from diabetes.
Nail Fungus Prevention
Because they are at higher risk of developing a yeast infection, people with diabetes need to check their feet more often to see if there are any cuts, tears, or changes in the nails. In addition, there are several steps diabetics can take to prevent nail fungus, including:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy food
- Drink according to the doctor's prescription
- Routinely check blood sugar levels
To prevent nail fungus infections from recurring, you can take the following steps:
- Wash hands and feet regularly. Don't forget to wash your hands immediately when touching infected nails and apply moisturizer to the nails.
- Trim the nails evenly, smooth the edges of the nails and thickened areas with a file. When finished, wash the nail clippers thoroughly.
- Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, shoes, or nail clippers, with other people.
- Discard shoes that are worn out, and sprinkle disinfectant or antifungal powder on shoes that have not been worn for a long time.
- Use socks that absorb sweat and change socks every day.
- Avoid going barefoot in public spaces, such as public locker rooms or swimming pool areas.
- Avoid using nail polish or fake nails .
- Choose a nail salon that has sterilized manicure tools.