The Progressive Nature Of Nail Fungus
Nail fungal infections can be characterized as a progressive condition that develops rather slowly and can be difficult to overcome. It is officially known as onychomycosis, and is characterized by thickened discolored nails, often flecked by white dots. The disease usually begins when debris enters the nail plate and causes it to become discolored. Infection of the toenails is much more common than the fingernails. In fact, it is estimated that toenail infections are roughly four to five times more common than fingernail infections. This is because toenails are more exposed to the moist, dark and warm environment on which fungus thrives. More than ten million Americans suffer from some form of nail fungus. Older individuals are more prone to developing nail fungal infections because their nails tend to grow thicker. It is estimated that by the time most individuals reach the age of 70, they will suffer from some kind of nail infection.
Nail fungal infections are progressive in nature. As fungi grow, it feeds on keratin, the material that skin is made up of. Nails are made of tough keratin protein. In most cases, the fungi responsible for toenail infections are known as dermatophytes. Other common nail fungal infection culprits include bacteria, mold, and yeast, although fungi remain the number one cause for infection. For most people who contract this stubborn condition, the toenail fungus establishes itself as a chronic condition. At times the symptoms of infection dissipate, but they may eventually return. Very rarely do nail fungal infections heal by themselves permanently. Even those individuals who lose their toenail due to injury or spontaneous drop off do not gain permanent relief from nail fungus. In most cases, the new toenail that grows in is also affected by fungus. In the most serious cases where the patient complains of severe pain or becomes immobilized due to the infection, surgical intervention may become necessary.
Men are more likely to develop toenail fungi than women. This is because they tend to spend more time barefoot on wet public spaces. For instance, military personnel and athletes appear to be at greater risk of developing a nail fungal infection. This is because they are exposed the wet floors of showers, locker rooms, and public bathrooms. Women who visit nail salons regularly are more susceptible to developing fungal infections in their fingernails. Most people who develop nail fungal infections tend to have some predisposition, including compromised immune systems and a family history of fungal infections.
Currently, there exists no universally effective treatment for nail fungal infections. Prescription oral or topical medications may prove effective for some patients, but they have been linked to a host of undesirable side effects. For less advanced cases, simple home remedies may be able to provide temporary relief. Surgical intervention is another option for more serious cases. Visit your physician or dermatologist to seek appropriate treatment for your case. The progressive nature of nail fungal infections makes it a challenge to treat, but with persistence it can be adequately treated.