Along with being an irritating occurrence a fungal nail infection can be a source of social embarrassment and something that is often ignored for a long time allowing for the infection to develop and spread.
Causes of Infection
For many people, bacteria can live happily on the skin without causing any problems, but for some, in fact a large percentage of the population, an infection can occur at some point. Infections of the nail are most commonly seen in the toenails and can be caused by other foot disorders such as athlete’s foot that has not been treated effectively. The bacteria can multiply and attack the nails as a warm dark environment such as under and around the nail provide the perfect location for these germs to breed and inhabit.
Those people who suffer from diabetes or certain heart and vascular problems are also more likely to develop a fungal nail infection as the blood supply in the lower limb can become compromised causing infections to grow more easily.
Signs and Symptoms
The most obvious sign that a person has a nail infection can be seen if the nail has become thickened, tough and flaky. The nail can discolour and shed flakes which are often the most common reason why people become ashamed of showing their feet. As the infection develops, the skin around the nail may become sore and inflamed and in extreme circumstances, there may be pus or blood present as the infection spreads under the nail causing it to lift.
Occasionally an infection of the toenail may spread to the fingernails if hygiene practices are not implemented. When touching the feet or administering treatment, hands should be thoroughly washed and dried before and after contact.
Treating Fungal Nail Infections
There are a great many anti-fungal preparations available from most chemists and supermarkets and can be purchased in powders, sprays lotions and devices to be worn in the shoe. There is no single product that has proved better than others and most often preparation selection is a matter of personal choice and to which product the individual can use most easily. These products should be used until the infection has cleared up, often with subsequent usage recommended.
If the infection is caused by another disorder such as athlete’s foot, this will need treating also as the infection may not be eradicated and may return soon after treatment has been given. In order to prevent cross infection to others, towels, socks and shoes should not be shared and floors kept clean and dry. Those who suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes, may benefit from regularly attending a chiropodist as these foot care specialists will be able to identify the infection at its earliest stages and can advise on general foot care issues and maintain the general well-being of the foot, nails and lower limbs. Nails should be kept short and dry and during treatment, again a chiropodist can advise on the best technique for doing this.
Fungal nail infections are very common and can be easily treated and avoided. To prevent the infection developing into a more serious infection, it should be identified and treated as soon as it is suspected.