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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Oral anti-fungal drugs are effective, but need to be taken for prolonged periods.
No restriction of activity.
No dietary restrictions.
Permanent nail loss or nail deformity.
Excellent with the proper treatment. Recurrences are common.