Onychomycosis

General Illness Information

Medical Term: Onychomycosis

Common Name: Nail fungus

Description: All fungal diseases of humans are of infectious nature, that is, caused by pathogenic fungi. The most common places of infection with fungal infections are skin and nails. Infection occurs in a contact-household way from a sick person to a healthy person, if the rules of personal hygiene are not respected. Infection with onychomycosis -fungus on nails of feet and hands often occurs through common shoes or household items in the family.

Anthroponous (human) mycosis of nails and skin most often causes three kinds of microorganisms:

  • dermatophytes (Trichophyton and others);
  • yeast-like fungi (primarily, causative agent of Candida albicans, as well as relatives of C. Tropicalis and S. Parapsilosis;
  • mold fungi of different species (Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, Aspergillus, Alternaria, Fusarium).

Manifestations of Nail Fungus

  1. Nail fungus begins at the edges of nail bed; the plate loses transparency, becomes whitish or yellow, edge of the nail is uneven, crumbles.
  2. Nail fungus can begin from nail roller area, extending into interior.
  3. With solid nail fungus, plate looks thickened, yellowish-gray, uneven, can partially or completely break down.
  4. White surface nail fungus begins with formation of small white spots and strips on back surface of the plate, which eventually increase and get yellow.

Symptoms

It is impossible to not notice appearance of fungus:

  • nails change color to gray, white, brown, black, yellow or green;
  • they begin to crumble;
  • there is itching of skin around nails;
  • lesion area is painful.

As the disease progresses, nail becomes cornified, seals grow, thereby greatly reducing effectiveness of treatment. Mycosis of nails is observed mainly in adult and elderly population, in children lesions of nail phalanges are extremely rare. Fungal diseases of any organs and tissues are formed in humans only when there is either a sharp decrease in immunity, or age-related change in pH of the skin and nails, or age-related chronic diseases progress.

Causes

  • Infection mainly occurs at contact with a sick person, animals, through objects of common use (combs, bedding, slippers, bath mats, etc.).
  • Paradoxically, today people who actively participate in sports, visit swimming pools, saunas, baths, public health centers, training halls and those using the same sports equipment are subject to this disease.
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), impaired metabolism, obesity, decrease in immune defense on the background of taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives play special role in development of fungus on legs.
  • In addition, excessive consumption of sweets and high-calorie foods contributes to occurrence of endocrine disruptions, which facilitates process of fungal attachment.

Risk factors

  • diabetes;
  • violation of blood supply of extremities (varicose veins, Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatic vascular lesions);
  • immunodeficiency, including HIV;
  • presence of fungal infections on skin and internal organs;
  • traumatic lesions of nail plates and adjacent tissues;
  • professional risks.

Diagnosis

Methods of research:

  • detection of pathogen by microscopy. Materials for microscopy – scraping from the nail plate;
  • surveillance culture. Inoculation of material.

To get information about what caused this or that change, it is necessary to consult dermatologist, who organizes procedure for diagnosing the disease. Scraping from affected part will be sent to laboratory to find out causes of the disease.

Microscopy will reveal presence of fungus, and inoculation on nutrient medium will allow surveillance culture of pathogen and determine sensitivity to antifungal drugs.

Treatment

Treatment of nail fungus is very important to begin at manifestation of its first symptoms, when the parasite has not yet begun to multiply and spread to other parts of the body. In addition, it is very easy to transmit it through contact-household way. Therefore, fungus of nails very often affects all family members. And, to all this not to happen, you need to immediately diagnose nail fungus and start its treatment.

Dermatologist will send patient to undertake analysis of scrapings of tissues to determine type of fungus or several types at once (this happens quite often). Also, treatment will depend on degree of damage to nail plate: if structure of nails has changed greatly, this means that the disease begins to progress.

If you notice signs of fungus of nails at the beginning of the disease, course of treatment will be limited to local anti-fungal drugs and will last not long. With correct choice and regular use of antifungal agent, it is possible to completely cure nail fungus and prevent complications.

Modern means for combating nail fungus – both synthetic and homeopathic – not only destroy pathogens, stop progression of mycosis, but can accumulate in nails for a long period of time, which reduces duration of treatment.

However, if patient chooses to treat the disease with medications in the form of pill, it is necessary to know that local treatment is much safer. Anti-fungal agents have a list of side effects that are not rare.  Side effects of systemic anti-fungal agents include:

  • headache;
  • itching;
  • loss of sense of taste;
  • gastrointestinal disorders;
  • rash;
  • fatigue;
  • abnormal liver function.

In its turn, homeopathic medicine can surely claim to avoid such adverse reactions, since medications containing only natural ingredients do not cause side effects and do not have contraindications.

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