Get Adobe Flash player

What Nails Are and How They Become Infected

What Nails Are and How They Become Infected

Our nails look like clear, hard sheathes that cover part of our finger and eventually grow out over the edge. Most people have a bit of a pinkish tinge underneath their nails. The nail itself isn’t pink but allows the color of the skin and blood vessels directly underneath to show through. This is what a normal, healthy nail should look like.

A nail infection discolors the nail to a whitish or yellowish color at first, then as it grows, brown and black can become part of the color scheme.

Nails are made up of keratin, the same protein that builds our hair and the outmost layer of our skin. Keratin is a strong-celled protein that is fairly diverse. For our nails, it builds this lovely sheath to protect the soft part of the nail from harm.

How Does Infection Get Into the Nail?

Really what happens is that a fungal infection gets under the nail. Just like their cousins, the mushroom, the fungal spores that grow and invade the nail bed want to be in a warm, dark, damp place to grow. We come into contact with these spores on a regular basis. Some of them are harmless and wash off with no effect to us. Others try to seek a parasitic relationship with our bodies, using us as a means to grow and spread themselves.

Most people don’t realize when or where they might come into contact with these parasitic fungal spores. The answer is, pretty much everywhere. Germs, viruses, and spores are part of the make-up of our eco-system. Having a healthy immune system is what allows our bodies to fight these things off.

The fungus that most commonly causes nail infection is called a dermatophyte. We come into contact with them every day and for most people, no harm is caused. However, for people with certain diseases, like diabetes, or who have poor circulation, or even who have been sick for a long time, so their immune system has been working overtime, these parasitic fungi find a happy breeding ground. The most commonly affected area is the toenail, as it is usually kept in the dark and surrounded by warm fabric that has the potential to hold in moisture. Fingernail fungus infections occur most often in people who spend a great deal of time with their hands in the water or exposed to harsh chemicals.

Fungus grow very slowly, so by the time the infected person notices the discoloration of their nail, the fungus has already established a fairly good hold on the nail. Usually it gets underneath the nail at the tip of the toe by working its way underneath and into the protected nail bed. It can also get into the soft tissue surrounding the nail and work its way under from there. Nail Fungus Infections aren’t incredibly dangerous, but they do take a very long time to treat, as the fungus isn’t gone until the nail has grown out entirely clear.

What can I do to prevent it?

There are lots of ways you can prevent nail fungus from getting to your nails in the first place. This is your best bet.

  • Keep your nails trimmed close to the edge of the finger or toe tip. The less space there is at the edge of the nail for the fungus to get on, the less likely it will be to grow.
  • Wash your hands and feet regularly and dry them thoroughly. Wear clean socks every day and make sure your shoes dry out entirely before wearing them, especially if you wear the same shoes every day.
  • Wear something on your feet when in public areas that have a lot of water, like swimming pools or locker rooms. And make sure those shoes have a chance to dry out too!

If I Get Infected, How Do I Treat It?

There are a great many home remedies suggested on this and other websites. Over-the-counter remedies and medications are another good idea. If you’re going to try to treat it yourself, start working with one of these remedies and wash the affected area at least twice a day, then dry it thoroughly. Wear clean socks if it’s a toenail infection, even to the point of changing your socks a couple times a day. Right after washing your feet. And if it is possible for you to wear sandals, exposing your feet to the light also helps.

If your infection is severe or well advanced, a visit to your doctor to figure out what kind of fungal infection it is and what treatment options are available to you will be your next step.

The Ins and Outs of Treating Fingernail Fungus Infection

The Ins and Outs of Treating Fingernail Fungus Infection

Our nails are mad of keratin, which is similar in structure to bone but not the same. It works to protect parts of the skin and tends to be a telltale indicator for signs of internal problems.

Most people are familiar with toenail fungus infections. A lot of people have them and they are caused by the fact that toes tend to spend a lot of time in dark, damp environments and come into contact with a lot of things that may be carriers for fungal spores. However fingernails can also become infected by fungus. The first sign of infection is usually the nail becoming discolored and then thickening, especially along the tips. This looks very unpleasant and is an embarrassment to people who suffer from it. Avoid painting your nails with fingernail polish if this occurs as the polish will seal in humidity and give the fungus a better breeding environment. Deciding that the problem “will go away on its own” is also a bad idea. Treating this fungus is the smartest thing you can do.

Nail Fungus Treatments

There are several available treatments for nail fungus, some of which include taking oral antifungal medications. Many people try to avoid this as some of these medications have rather harsh side effects. Antifungal solutions and ointments are available over the counter and are comparatively well priced. Several of these are alternative remedies that use natural oils with antifungal properties

The most popular and effective nail fungus treatment is ClearFungus. This is a combination of essential oils to both kill the fungus and help heal and moisturize the surrounding skin. No side effects have been reported during use of this natural medication.

Some important maintenance tips to encourage the healing process if you have a nail fungus infection:

  • Keep a strict regimen of applying the antifungal solution to the infected nail(s)
  • Maintain good hygiene, even if it means changing your regular habits
  • Wash your hands regularly and use soap. Scrub your nails with a nail brush to remove any dirt that gets underneath or into the ridges of the nail
  • Avoid using your nails as tools to open or unscrew anything as this can abrade the nail and allow the microorganisms that cause the fungal growth to bury themselves further in your nail and nail bed
  • If you choose to go to a salon to get a manicure or pedicure, then make sure your chosen salon washes and sterilizes its equipment so you reduce the risk of contracting infection
  • Don’t wear nail polish to cover up the embarrassment of having a fungal infection. The polish will hold moisture inside the nail and nail bed, encouraging fungal growth and further damage to the area.
  • Use, and don’t share your own nail maintenance tools, like clippers, file, cuticle stick, etc. as this lowers the chance of contracting a fungal infection
  • Wash your hands and feet regularly and dry them thoroughly.
  • Catching and treating a nail fungus infection early on will avoid problems in the future. Having the antifungal solution available is the best safety tip.
  • Use gloves when dealing with chemicals to avoid exposing your fingernails to futher damage

If you find that the infection persists, seek advice from your medical professional as there may be other symptoms and problems that linger unseen in your body that should be addressed.

Welcome To NailsFungus.org

Welcome to the Blog Section of NailsFungus.org

Welcome to NailsFUngus.org - Nail Fungus

In this section you will find articles and videos on nail fungus and nail fungus treatments. Feel free to search for a subject concerning you or just browse around. We have amassed the largest informational database on nail fungus online and are here to help…

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (Nail Fungus)

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (Nail Fungus)

Least common in people with healthy immune systems but found frequently in people who have compromised immune systems, proximal subungual onychomycosis stands out because the progression of the disease starts at the cuticle and grows out with the nail.

Proximal subungual onychomycosis usually causes the nail to become disfigured, as in other nail fungus infections, but as it starts at the cuticle and works its way up, it is more likely to infect the nail bed early on, causing the nail bed to develop bumps and irregularities. This then may cause the nail plate to become dislodged and fall off, exposing the nail bed to possible further infection.

Similar to distal subungual onychomycosis, the majority of cases of proximal subungual onychomycosis are caused by the same dermatophyte, Trichophyton ruburm. However this particular nail fungus infection can also be caused by a different dermatophyte, Trichophyton  mentagrophytes. Proximal subungual onychomycosis can also be caused by molds. Another defined symptom of proximal subungual onychomycosis is the skin around the nail may become swollen, red and inflamed and may start to ooze pus. This is more commonly seen when the nail fungus infection is caused by molds than by dermatophytes.

Unfortunately, these distinguishing symptoms are what cause proximal subungual onychomycosis to be misdiagnosed as a bacterial infection instead of a fungal infection by some physicians. As antibiotics do not kill fungi, this course of treatment does nothing to stop the infection. An antifungal is required to eradicate molds, yeasts and dermatophytes.

Proximal subungual onychomycosis occurs more often in people who have depressed or deficient immune systems. It is rarely seen in people with good immunity. Immunodepression can be caused by procedures like chemotherapy or in people who are recovering from an autoimmune disease or an organ transplant and have had their immune system deliberately suppressed.

Proximal subungual onychomycosis occurs frequently in people with unhealthy immune systems and even more commonly in people with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. This is such a common occurrence that if a patient contracts this form of nail fungus infection and no other cause can be found, the doctor will likely suggest an HIV test. Be prepared if you have a fungal nail infection and it is discovered to be proximal subungual onychomycosis, to have your doctor suggest an HIV test. This is a test that requires your consent to perform. And just because you may receive a diagnosis of proximal subungual onychomycosis doesn’t necessarily mean that you have contracted HIV.

The only way to cure proximal subungual onychomycosis is to take an oral antifungal medication. If the nail fungus is caused by dermatophytes Trichophyton rubrum or Trichophyton mentagrophytes then it is likely that your doctor will prescribe terbinafine, also known as Lamisil. The dose is usually one 250 mg pill once a day for six weeks for a fingernail infection and twelve weeks for a toenail infection. A nice thing about Lamisil is that it is usually less expensive than the other current generation antifungals.

Itroconazole, or Sporanox, is used for treatment when the cause of the proximal subungual onychomycosis is unknown because it is effective against both dermatophytes and Candida infections. This tends to be a more expensive treatment method than some of the others.

Fluconazole commercially known as Diflucan, is able to treat proximal subungual onychomycosis but is not used as often as the other available medications. This medication stops the fungal growth and therefore the spread of the disease but does not kill the fungus itself. The difference between these two processes is referred to as fungistatic (stopping growth) and fungicidal (killing growth).

This particular drug tends to slow down the growth so that the immune system can take care of it on its own. As many of the cases of proximal subungual onychomycosis happen in people with previously depressed immune systems, this is not necessarily the best drug choice. Fluconazole (Diflucan) is taken until the symptoms resolve and the infection is gone.

Curing a Nail Fungus Infection with an Acidophilus Beer Soak

Curing a Nail Fungus Infection

with an Acidophilus Beer Soak

A nail fungus infection is unattractive at best, annoying at worst. This is not a disease that is going to kill you. It may affect how you interact with the world if it gets to bad, for instance, if your have a very bad toenail fungus infection, it may become painful to walk, or the nerves in your feet may be mildly affected and you won’t be able to feel the floor very well. However this is not a life threatening condition, especially if it is caught early on.

A fungus, most commonly a dermatophyte, can get onto and underneath your nail and find a happy, warm, moist place to grow. Once the fungus has established itself, it turns your nail white or yellow. This is usually seen originally as a spot, but that spot grows to cover the whole nail over time. It also makes your nails thicker and more brittle, because the fungus is consuming the keratin, the protein that your nails are made of, to grow and protect itself.

So one of the biggest problems with a fungal nail infection is that it is located underneath the nail, in the nail bed. One of the most frequently suggested nail infection home remedies is soaking your feet in a combination of dark beer, vinegar and acidophilus, usually referred to as an acidophilus beer soak.

So Why Acidophilus and Beer?

The theory behind this home remedy is that by soaking your infected nails in this solution for 20-30 minutes, you allow the alcohol in the beer to soften up the nail, thus the acidophilus and vinegar can get into and underneath the nail to kill off the fungal infection.

Here is the process:

•           Use a dark beer, like Guinness Stout. (Any stout will do, most people happen to know and can get this particular brand.)

•           Mix the beer with a ½ cup of white or apple cider vinegar.

•           Add a sachet of acidophilus culture. You can find these at your health food store. You want to find one that is 125 billion organisms. (It should say so on the packaging.)

•           Stir these all together, then soak the infected nails in the solution for 20-30 minutes a day, twice daily.

•           Wash the infected area thoroughly with soap and water afterward, then dry equally thoroughly.

•           Put on clean socks (if it is the beginning of the day) or leave your feet exposed to light and air.

This mixture can be used up to four times before disposing of it, which will keep your costs down. Many people have claimed to cure their nail fungus infection entirely by using this simple home remedy.

asdadasda