What is NAIL FUNGUS? Nail fungus (onychomycosis) is a fungal infection of the fingernails and toenails. - These fungal infections usually cause discoloration, thickening and often softening of the nails. - Nail fungus is a difficult condition to treat and may often cause permanent damage to the nails and possibly nail loss. Types of NAIL FUNGUS: - Distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO): site of invasion is the distal nail bed and progression is distal to proximal. - Proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO): site of invasion is the proximal nail bed. This condition is quite rare in people with intact immune systems. - White superficial onychomycosis (WSO): characterized by white discoloration on the surface of the toenail which can be easily scraped away. Common causes of NAIL FUNGUS - Nail fungus infections are caused by dermatophyte fungi (tinea unguium), yeasts such as Candida albicans, and non-dermatophyte molds. - Factors that may increase the development of nail fungus include humidity, heat, trauma, diabetes mellitus, and underlying tinea pedis (athlete’s foot). Symptoms of NAIL FUNGUS: - Other than appearance, nail fungus generally has no symptoms. In some rare cases, nail fungus may cause pain, limit mobility, and interfere with manual dexterity. - DSO: yellow-brown discoloration with eventual crumbling and disintegration of the nail plate. - PSO: white or yellow discoloration on the surface of the nail plate beginning at the proximal nail fold and extending distally. - WSO: white discoloration on the surface of the toenail which can be easily scraped away
Your body hosts millions of microscopic organisms, some harmful, some hurtful. Fungi are one type of tiny, plant-like organism that lives on your body or inside it. Unlike plants, they have no chlorophyll, a chemical which turns sunlight into food. To survive, fungi absorb nutrients from other living or dead things. They thrive in warm, moist places, like underneath your toenails.
It is estimated that around 36 million people in the United States have onychomycosis, a fungal nail infection. Fungal nail infections are more common in toenails, but they also occur in fingernails. They are more likely in adults and often follow a fungal foot infection, like athlete's foot.
When the nail is infected with fungi, it becomes yellowish, dry and brittle. The nail also becomes thicker, as layers of fungi grow and bloom. The nail may even separate from the skin, slightly rising off the toe.
Locker rooms, public pools and gym showers can all be sources of fungal infections. Fungi love these hot, damp environments. Nail salons can also be a source of fungal infection. If the foot tub is not properly cleaned after a pedicure, fungi can live there, infecting the next person that puts their feet in tub.