How to Treat Nail Fungus

Have you noticed some dark colored debris under your finger nails? You could be suffering from nail fungus. Read on to learn how to treat nail fungus.
| Monday, November 03, 2008
Personal care and hygiene play a very important role in the health of an individual. Very often a slight ignorance in personal hygiene can result in problems of nail fungus among people. Nail fungus is also called as Onychomycosis. A tiny organism called as Tinea Unguium is responsible for infecting the fingernails and also toenails of an individual. While it is normally difficult for an infection to invade the nails once this invasion occurs it is just as difficult to get rid of the problem. This problem of nail fungus is inordinately common with as many as 35 million people in United States alone experiencing it. Fingernail fungus is common because the area underneath the nail is damp and dark and this provides the fungus perfect environment to grow. For this same reason it is rather difficult to treat fungal nail infection. This nail fungus infection is rather common in the toenails as against the fingernails because the toenails tend to be more moist and damp and also tend to get more neglected than the fingernails.

Symptoms of finger nail fungus

The fungus in this infection grows in the bed of the nail around the region where the nail and skin meet. The fungi affecting the nails cause the area surrounding the base of the nails to get red and become irritated. Initially the edges of the nail and its base area are affected. There is slight discomfort, itching sensation and pain around the cuticle area and in some cases even bleeding and detachment of cuticles can occur. In this infection nail discoloration can occur and the colour of the nails become dark yellow or brown and thickening of nails can occur as can appearance of groves, lines and holes in the nail. This infection is ordinarily not contagious and therefore cannot spread between people. However people with weak immune system are more likely to experience this form of infection. Other symptoms of finger nail fungus include:
  • Brittle nails or nails that crumble easily and look ragged
  • Distortion of nails
  • Lack of shine in the nails
  • Build up of dark colored debris under the nail.
Causes of Nail Fungus
  • The reason why fungi develop in the bed of the nails is that these microscopic organisms do not require sunlight to survive. These belong to a particular kind of fungi called dermatophytes. When the area around the nails remains wet for long periods of time or is continuously warm and moist then it results in the growth of these fungi.  
  • One other cause for the growth of this fungus is that often the circulation of blood in the toes is less as compared to that in the fingers and because of this the body is not able to eliminate the fungus.
  • Nail fungus is also common as people age because with ageing the nails become thick and therefore more susceptible to it. Men tend to have greater possibility of developing this infection since it has some genetic component to it.
  • Excessive perspiration can further increase the possibility of nail fungus. People who work in excessive moist environments can also suffer from this problem. Walking barefoot in environments that are damp and moist and wearing socks that affect ventilation thereby absorbing perspiration all contribute to the development of this infection. Other causes for this infection include minor injuries to the nails and diabetes problems.
Nail fungus treatment
  • There are certain side effects to the treatment of the nail fungus and therefore in extreme cases treatment is recommended. Some of the medication that is prescribed in nail fungal infections include Terbinafine, itraconazole and Fluconazole. Some other ways to treat nail fungus infection include
  • Antifungal lacquer is a form of antifungal nail polish that is used to paint on the infected nails. Use of this helps in clearing the fungal infection.
  • Some topical medications may also be prescribed and these contain urea that helps in absorption of the medication.
There are some home remedies that are used to treat finger nail fungus.
  • Tea tree oil for nail fungus:Being a very powerful natural antiseptic, tea tree oil can help in fighting the fungus. Tea tree oil in its undiluted form should be applied in the affected area together with olive oil. One can also simply apply a few drops of this oil and rub it in the affected area every day.
  • Listerine mouthwash is also used to soak the toes and since it has antiseptic qualities it helps to deal with the fungus problem.
  • Soaking the nails in a bowl of warm water mixed with equal proportion of apple cider vinegar can also help in dealing with the infection. After soaking, the area should be thoroughly dried of all moisture.
  • Tea tree oil is a very powerful antibiotic and used along with lavender can help in fighting this infection and also helps in assuaging the irritation of the skin that is because of the fungus. This solution can be lightly applied on the affected area.
  • Another antiseptic and potent remedy is the use of Oregano essential oil together with olive oil. If two drops each of these oils is mixed and applied to the area then its anti bacterial and antiseptic properties can help deal with this problem.
  • Applying AHA creams (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) can help in flushing away the scaly and rough skin in the affected area that is prone to developing the fungus.
  • Some studies have shown that soaking nails in one part vinegar and two parts water can help in dealing with certain kinds of bacterial infection.
  • Some people also claim that applying Vicks VapoRub can be effective in handling nail fungal infections.
The best way to deal with finger nail fungus is to prevent its growth. This can be done by following some precautions.
  • It is best to keep the nails dry, clean and cut them short but at the same time take care to ensure that the nails are not cut too short. It is also important to pay close attention to keeping the area between the toes dry and clean.
  • Using antifungal powder and sprinkling it lightly on the feet and the inside the shoes can also help.
  • If your work requires you to be exposed to water for long periods of time then it is best to wear rubber gloves. This will help you to keep the hands dry and thereby keep the infection at bay.
  • Ensure that the salon you visit for your manicure is a reputed one and sterilizes the instruments.
  • Avoid walking around barefoot at public places, particularly in warm and damp places such as showers and pools. Wear socks that are of natural fibres such as cotton.
  • If you already have some infection then avoid using nail polish since it may only result in the infection increasing even further.
Finally diet also plays an important part in curing a problem such as a nail fungal infection. Those individuals who experience fungal problems in the nails should include probiotics in their diet. Probiotics are the good bacteria and can help the body to deal with the fungus. Reduce intake of sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Include yogurt and proteins in your diet.
   
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