It may or may not come as a consolation to you to learn that nail fungal infections are incredibly common. When nail fungal infections strike, it’s hard to look past the physical signs of this condition. The main signs of nail fungus include yellow discoloration and brittle nail texture. Nails afflicted with fungal infections can break easily and take on a brittle, crumbly appearance. Nails may also begin to grow irregularly.
As previously noted, nail fungal infections are generally common. The fungus tends to grow around the area where the skin and nail meet, often referred to as the nail bed. Like most fungal infections, nail fungal infections develop gradually. Nail fungal infections do not spread to other parts of the body or internal organs. There are many conditions that can result in nail discoloration, so a positive diagnosis of nail fungal infection can sometimes be difficult to make solely on the basis of a physical inspection. In order to officially confirm the presence of a nail fungal infection, the doctor may often need to clip a piece of the nail and send it to the laboratory to confirm the presence of fungi.
Although nail fungal infections can technically be transferred from one person to another, the condition is generally not considered very contagious. More commonly, nail fungal infections tend to occur in individuals with lowered immune systems. Healthy immune systems are generally very efficient at fight off fungal infections. However, if a person’s immune system is compromised, nail fungal infections cannot be suppressed as easily. Once a fungal infection becomes established, it can be difficult to get rid of it for good.
It may help to keep your feet dry. Wear clean cotton, nonporous socks in closed shoes, especially around water. Avoid walking barefoot over wet surfaces, particularly in public places such as sidewalks, public swimming pools, and bathrooms. This can help prevent fungal nail infections, as well as other fungal infections like athlete’s foots. If you must use a public shower, wear waterproof sandals. Always avoid keeping your feet wet for extended periods of time.
What can you do to treat a fungal infection? Over the counter nail fungal infections can be helpful in less advanced cases. These medications may not be very effective in more severe, advanced cases. For more advanced cases, prescription oral medications are prescribed. These are strong oral medications that must be taken for many months on a consistent basis.
Unfortunately, these medications can have serious potential side effects. They can cause damage to the liver, bone marrow, the skin, and other body organs. Because of the potential side effects of these oral medications, your doctor must order blood tests to be conducted on a periodic basis. These blood tests are intended to monitor any side effects that may occur during the length of the treatment. Your physician will provide you with a list of symptoms to watch for that may indicate a problem. These include fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite, pale stool coupled with dark urine, skin rashes, bleeding, and enlarged lymph nodes.