What Causes Fungal Nail Infection? Treatment, Symptoms & More
Are your nails looking brittle and discoloured? Do they keep splitting and crumbling?
If so, you might probably have something called a fungal nail infection.
Fungal nail infections are a common condition that mostly affects your toenails. Although they are harmless and do not typically cause pain, you need to be rigorous in your treatment to bring back a healthy nail.
If you're showing symptoms or are simply curious, read on to find out more about fungal nail infections!
What are the Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infections?
You can spot a fungal nail infection easily by its appearance. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
Brittle or crumbly looking
The nail is separated from the nail bed
Emits a smelly odour
What Causes Fungal Nail Infections?
Fungal nail infection is caused by the growth of fungi within, on or under the nail. Fungi thrive in warmer environments (like Singapore) as opposed to colder ones.
It comes from the same type of fungus that causes athlete's foot or ringworm. You can also contract a fungal nail infection from someone that already has it.
Although you can avoid getting fungal infections, there are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood of contracting one.
Frequent use of nail polish or artificial nails
When nail polish or fake nails are applied incorrectly, it can trap moisture and warmth, which fosters the growth of fungi.
Furthermore, if you use nail polish when you already have fungal nails, the fungi can grow in the bottle and cause future infections.
If you like to get your nails done at the nail salon, you are not entirely risk-free either.
Nail fungus can spread easily from customer to customer if the nail equipment is improperly cleaned between appointments. So be sure that the establishment you visit is hygienic and regularly disinfects its equipment!
Injuries to the nail plate or surrounding skin
Nail injuries can expose the nail bed to nail fungus. If the nail injury is not adequately cleaned and dried, the fungi may have the perfect conditions to flourish.
If the area near your toenail is wounded and needs to be bandaged, it can also create the warm, moist environment nail fungus loves.
Weakened immune system
When an individual's immune system is compromised, their body is less effective at fending off pathogens like fungus.
This leads to a higher risk of severe cases of infection and a longer period of recovery.
Your immune system may be compromised due to
peripheral arterial disease
other chronic diseases
If you have one or more of the factors above, you should take even greater care of your nails to prevent fungal infections!
What are the Treatment Options for Infected Nails?
In some minor cases, you can treat nail fungus with home remedies like:
Wiping hydrogen peroxide on the infected nail(s)
Applying tea tree oil to the affected nail(s)
Soaking your feet in black tea
However, most fungal nail infections should be addressed by a podiatrist for effective treatment!
Home treatments might not sufficiently eradicate the fungal infection, which can spread quickly and cause permanent damage to the nails.
Once they have confirmed your condition, it is likely that they will prescribe you stronger antifungal medicines instead of over-the-counter (OTC) ones, such as oral medication and topical creams or solutions.
Depending on the severity of your case, you will have to strictly keep to these treatments for several months or longer.
PACTMED Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Firstly, your podiatrist will apply a photosensitizing chemical to infected nails. Then, it is exposed to a specific wavelength of light from the PactMED LED, activating the chemical.
The photosensitizing chemical triggers oxygen molecules to attack and kill the fungus without affecting the surrounding tissue.
PDT is Dr Foot's preferred toenail fungus treatment as
there are virtually no contraindications or side effects,
it can effectively treat a nail infection in 3-4 sessions,
it is a better alternative for patients who may experience adverse side effects associated with pharmacotherapy,
it reduces the chances of reinfection,
and it promotes tissue regeneration and collagen growth!
Usually, infected nails do not need to be fully removed. However, if the the infection is severe or painful and other treatments have failed, it may be advised to do so.
If your nail is surgically removed, a new nail should eventually grow in its place, but the full growth can take a year or longer.
How Can I Avoid Fungal Nail Infections?
With proper hygiene, you can easily prevent fungal nail infections entirely!
Here are some preventative methods you can start practising if you haven't already:
Constantly clean your feet and hands
Dry your feet and hands after showering
Wear shoes and socks that are clean
Keep your fingernails and toenails short and tidy
Don't share your nail clippers with others
Don't walk barefoot in public spaces such as gyms, public pools and locker rooms
Bid farewell to toenail fungus in 3-4 sessions with Dr Foot's modern modalities!
At Dr Foot, we aim to give our patients the highest quality of care. We strongly believe that everyone is entitled to healthy and strong feet - and that includes your toenails!
Our clinic offers a more convenient and accessible alternative to lengthy hospital waiting lists for patients who need assistance with their feet.
Our expert professional podiatrist will recommend the best treatment options for you according to your condition and personal needs.
Book a consultation with us today!