In The Beauty Light: Fungal Nail Infection

Got a nail infection and want to know more about it? Well, we’ve got you covered – tune in to this week’s beauty insider to learn more about what exactly a fungal nail infection is, the causes, treatment and the preventive measures:

What Is A Fungal Nail Infection?

A fungal nail infection begins from the edge of a nail (the sulci or cuticles) and takes on excessive growth. It is more common amongst certain demographics, such as older people, and more so men than women. It affects up to 50% of people over the age of 60. In these age ranges, it can come down to other medical considerations and complications like diabetes, reduced nail growth and quality. However, it can affect anyone. 

Common Causes

  • Broken toenails
  • Sharing towels
  • Wearing someone else’s shoes 
  • Sharing nail clippers or scissors with anyone 
  • Shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty, or impose pressure on your toes 
  • Infected manicure and pedicure tools at salons 
  • Not drying your feet after you shower 
  • Being barefoot at home and outside (slippers are a hack)
  • Artificial nails and nail polish

Why do so many of these involve keeping your feet and nails aired and dry?

Fungi thrives in moist and warm environments. If your shoe or socks are accommodating this, the fungi will naturally overpopulate. 

Types Of A Fungal Nail Infection:

  • Distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO) is the most common type of fungal nail infection. The infection causes a white or yellow discolouration at the edge of your nail. As it progresses, the nail may split. Although this is the most common, home treatment should begin immediately – if it gets worse, wearing shoes could become a difficult task due to the pressure on and sensitivity of the nail, which can become lifelong. 
  • White superficial onychomycosis (WSO) can similarly be treated easily if it is addressed properly. It begins with an array of small yellow or white spots over the surface of your nail. Soon, a chalky powder begins to form on the nail’s surface. The nail does not split. 
  • Candida onychomycosis affects the borders of the nail. It occurs much more in the fingernails than the toenails. The nail can become white, brown, green and sometimes changes shape (thicker appearance). This can also be painful after a short period, because it can cause redness and swelling pain. 
  • Proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO) commonly affects people who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) . In this case, the skin on top of the whole foot can become infected. The base of the nail will usually appear white, whilst the nail itself is typically an opaque.  

Prevention

  • Wash your hands regularly and frequently 
  • Efficient nail care: trimming nails across smoothing edges with a nail file – and most importantly, disinfect the nail clipper after each use 
  • Change socks throughout the day 
  • Shoes only with materials that allow your feet to breathe
  • Slippers at pools or in locker rooms
  • Choose only a trusted and reputable salon (if any)
  • Discard old shoes, or disinfect them at given periods

Treatment Methods

  • Oregano oil (apply to the nail twice daily with a cotton swab) but be aware of its ingredients encase of irritation or allergic reaction.
  • Olive leaf extract (drink water throughout this treatment)
  • Soak feet in vinegar for up to 20 minutes daily
  • Vicks VapoRub (rub at least once a day on area)
  • Tea tree oil (not 100% effective but worth a go. Cotton swab twice a day on affected area).

You may also make changes to your diet. A healthier and protein rich, nutritious diet will mean your body has a better chance at battling any infections, including fungal ones.

  • Probiotic yogurts 
  • Iron rich foods 
  • Calcium and Vitamin D rich foods 
  • Protein (nail growth)

If you have other medical conditions, or your symptoms extend beyond those that are common, contact your doctor immediately.

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