Tinea unguium or onychomycosis – the medical term for nail fungus – is a fungal infection that affects the nail. Having a (toe)nail infection is nothing to be ashamed of because about 10% of the adult population struggles with this health problem, in other words, 1 in 10 adults have a nail fungus. In people over 70, this is as high as 1 in 2, meaning 50% of people over 70 have one (or more) nail fungi. The fungus infection is contagious and is spread via direct contact, so be warned. Make sure you recognize the symptoms and know their causes because the sooner you start treatment, the better your chance of getting rid of it.
What Is Toenail Fungus?
Nail fungus occurs when a fungal infection or a dermatophyte (in most cases) gets between the nail and the nail bed. This can happen when the nail has a crack or cut. Fungal nails are most common in toenails, but fingernails can also become infected. Toes are usually warm and damp, which are the perfect conditions for fungus to grow. Different fungi and sometimes yeast affect different parts of the nail. There are a few factors that increased the risk of getting nail fungus. For example, men are more likely to have fungal nails than questions, and the chance is also higher as you age. Other risk factors include:
- People who suffer from diabetes
- People who suffer from psoriasis
- People with athlete’s foot
- People with a weakened immune system
- People who suffer from hyperhidrosis
- People who suffer from poor blood circulation
- Toe/nail injuries
- People who spent a lot of time in the water
Types of Toenail Fungus
Fungal nail infections are categorized into 4 types. These are based on where the infection originates and how it’s caused. The types are:
- Distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO); infects the nail bed as is caused by the same fungi that cause athlete’s foot.
- White superficial onychomycosis (WSO); infect the top layer of the nail.
- Candida onychomycosis; infect the nail and the skin bordering the nail and is caused by a yeast infection.
- Proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO); infects the base of the nail and is caused by dermatophytes and is common among people with HIV.
Continue reading on the next page and find out, among others, how (toe)nail fungus infections are treated.