Ringworm Infection Of Nails

General Illness Information

Common Name: Ringworm infection of nails

Medical Term: Onychomycosis, tinea unguium.

Description: A fungus infection of the toenails or fingernails in which nails become pliable, brittle, opaque, white and thickened.

It affects all ages, but most common in older adolescents and adults.

Causes:

  • Infection with the Trichophyton fungus.
  • Fingernail infection occurs usually if the nail has been injured or the nail is affected by another skin disease on the hand.
  • Toenail infections can occur with or without injury.

Prevention: Avoid exposure to local heat, humidity and moisture.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Begins with a small separation between the end of the nail and the nail bed.
  • Soft yellow material gradually builds up in the separation.
  • Nail becomes thickened and yellow.
  • The condition usually doesn’t itch and is painless, unless the area is extensive and becomes infected.
  • Eventually the entire nail is separated, resulting in a partially destroyed, misshapen, yellow nail.

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to occupational heat, wetness and humidity, such as with farmers, cooks, dishwashers, housewives and gardeners.
  • Hot, humid weather.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Diabetes mellitus.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnostic tests include laboratory fungal cultures of the material under nails.

General Measures:

  • Dry feet and hands with extra care after bathing even after the infection clears.
  • Wear light footwear, such as sandals, to allow free air circulation. Don’t wear socks or shoes made from synthetic materials.
  • Keep feet and hands cool, dry and expose to sunlight as much as possible.
  • For fingernail infections, wear cotton-lined latex or rubber gloves for dish-washing or other cleaning that requires immersion in water or chemicals.
  • Surgical removal of the nail may be necessary.

Medications:

Oral anti-fungal drugs are effective, but need to be taken for prolonged periods.

Activity:

No restriction of activity.

Diet:

No dietary restrictions.

Possible Complications:

Permanent nail loss or nail deformity.

Prognosis

Excellent with the proper treatment.  Recurrences are common.

Other

Nothing specified.