What is Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus, sometimes known by its scientific names Onychomycosis or Tinea unguium, is made up of microscopic organisms that dwell around the toenails and fingernails. Most of the time, our toenails and fingernails operate as very effective barriers. They keep dirt, bacteria and fungi out-most of the time. While our nails are generally good at keeping superficial infections from entering and taking hold, sometimes they are overwhelmed. When fungi break the barrier, they tend to settle in for long-term residence. However, the barrier that usually protects us from infection also makes it difficult to treat infections that made it through. Nail fungal infections develop rather slowly, and can be difficult to treat. Once they have made it behind the barrier protection, they can be difficult to reach.

Over 35 million individuals are affected by nail fungal infections in the United States. The fungus thrives in the warm dark and protected environment behind the nail. Women who wear nail polish and acrylic nails are more likely to develop nail fungal infections. This is because plastic or acrylic nails can trap moisture and creating a moist and dark environment where fungus can thrive. Most of the time, nail fungal infections appear in the toenails. Socks and shoes keep our feet sheltered in a dark and moist environment that is also inviting for fungi. In fact, some doctors estimate that the nails are at least six to seven times more likely to developing a nail fungal infection. Fungal infections start at the base of the nail and then spread upwards. The nail may become brittle, crumbly in appearance, red, and irritated. As the fungal infection spreads, the nail may begin to grow irregularly. The nail may begin to change in appearance.

What does it feel like to have a nail fungal infection? If you have ever had a nail fungal infection, you will probably recognize the litany of symptoms. The symptoms may range between mild discomforts to sharp pain. Other common symptoms include itchiness and tenderness around the sides of the nails and cuticles. In more severe or advanced cases, the nail may begin to bleed and the cuticles may even become detached. The nail will take on a yellowish-green tint, or sometimes a dark yellow or brown. The nails become thick and sometimes develop white spots. The nail itself may develop irregular grooves and holes.

Although not especially common, nail fungal infections can be contagious. The fungal organisms can spread from one individual to another. Avoid walking barefoot on wet public surfaces or keeping your feet or hands moist for extended periods of time. Prevention is key when it comes to nail fungal infections. If you think you may be prone to nail fungal infections, keep your nails cut clean and straight. Avoid acrylic or plastic nails, and keep your feet dry and hands dry. If you think you may be infected, soak your nails in salt water. Over the counter ointments can be helpful, but may not be powerful enough for more advanced cases. Oral prescription medications can help in more serious cases, although these can have serious side effects.


 

Nail fungus news on the Web


Winning entries in the caption competition. This week, three people suspended in sleeping bags nailed to a wall at London's Victoria station to promote the launch of a herbal sleep remedy.


Years ago, I was suffering with sensitivity to all underarm deodorants on the market. I found an alternative product at the health-food store and bought it, though it was dreadfully expensive ($12). The directions said to apply a small amount of this white paste to each clean, dry armpit only once a week. I tried it, and it worked. The ingredients were zinc oxide, rose water and some kind of ...


Onychomycosis is a general term referring to several fungal infections of the nails. The disease is caused by fungi which may be grouped as dermatophytes, nondermatophytes, yeasts or a mixture.


Listerine can give you fresh breath. It can also clean the house and take care of dandruff.


Q: Years ago, I was suffering with sensitivity to all underarm deodorants on the market. I found an alternative product at the health-food store and bought it, though it was dreadfully expensive ($12). The directions said to apply a small amount of this white paste to each clean, dry armpit only once a week.


A powerful mouthwash can also be used to fight fungus, relieve pain and clean floors, some say.


ACCESS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. announced today that it had retained Piper Jaffray to augment ongoing business development efforts with the goal of establishing additional strategic development and commercialization partnerships for Access' extensive product pipeline and multiple technology platforms.


When it was first introduced in 1879, Listerine was used as a surgical antiseptic, Greenville, S.C., television station WYFF reported. By 1914, it became the first mouthwash sold over the counter. And in the 1920s, the product was trumpeted as a dandruff treatment.


Q: My thin nails never grow past my fingertips! I'm not sure if dermatologists treat nails, but if so, can you help? A: Fingernails and toenails are in the dermatologist's domain. And yes, here are tips to help you grow strong nails:


Long before the creation of the hit show and movie Sex and the City, women chose to wear high heels for a wide variety of reasons — even at the expense of their own physical comfort.