Posts Tagged ‘fungal infection’
What are the symptoms of a Nail fungus and
how can I tell if I have a Nail Fungus Infection?
You’d think these would be fairly straightforward questions that ought to illicit simple answers. Unfortunately not only is this not true, but it is confusing enough that sometimes doctors misdiagnose nail fungus (or onychomycosis). Knowing the symptoms will assist you in helping your doctor to order the appropriate diagnostic tests so that you end up with the correct solution to your problem.
There are two basic causes of nail infections. Bacterial and fungal. Onychomiycosis, or fungal nail infection, is usually caused by a dermatophyte called Trichophyton rubrum. If not, it is caused by Candida albicans, a yeast growth (also a fungus). As nail infections differ in variety and in cause, the correct cure must be applied. A fungal infection should be treated with an anti-fungal whereas a bacterial infection should be treated with an antibiotic.
Onychomycosis affects the nail bed (skin underneath the nail) nail plate (the hard surface that we refer to as the nail) or the skin around the nail. About one third of skin infections and half of nail infections are caused by Onychomycosis. The visual signs are the abnormalities caused by the nail fungus. A white or yellowish crust appears on top of or embedded in the nail. This is the actual fungus growth. Sometimes it appears as streaks that follow the line of the nail against the infected digit (finger or toe) and sometimes it appears at the cuticle (soft area at the base of the nail). As the fungus spreads, it covers the entire surface of the nail, turning it to a milky white or yellow. Frequently it causes the nail to become ridged and deformed. This is a result of the dermaptophytes emitting destructive waste product as a result of consuming keratin. If the fungus gets underneath the nail plate, it can cause the nail bed to become irregular. This causes the nail plate to release from the bumpy nail bed and the nail becomes loose and can fall off.
If the nail fungus infection becomes severe, or if it contains Candida, the area around the nail can become swollen and sensitive to the touch. The skin may express (think ooze) pus and be very uncomfortable, even painful. These are common signs of infection. The pus is a result of white blood cells rushing to the area to fight off the infection. This is your body trying to do its job and tell you and your doctor that something is wrong.
It is most common for pus to be present in the case of bacterial infections. Thus your doctor should check for this before looking for fungal infections. To add to the confusion, there are diseases that mimic a nail fungus, including hallopeau acrodermatitis, lichen planus, nail bed psoriasis (which can occur in conjunction with fungal infection of the nail), nail bed melanoma, Reiter syndrome, yellow nail syndrome, onycholysis, and paronychia. Because of this factor, more than one test may be necessary to determine the correct course of treatment.
Different forms of onychomycosis will require different samples from the affected area. In some cases the nail can be sampled from the end or the top can be scraped for a sample, in others, the nail will need to be removed entirely. Whereas this can be a bit scary, it is also to your advantage as it then exposes the nail bed so that it can be treated.
The most typical tests performed on a nail culture to look for onychomycosis are a potassium hydroxide wash, which allows for the sample to be put under a microscope and searched for evidence of fungal growth, or a fungal culture, where the sample piece of nail is put in an environment (usually a petri dish) where it has the necessary components to thrive and create new growth, thus showing what kind of fungal infection it is. In the unlikely event that neither of these tests show positive for onychomycosis, the remaining nail sample can be pulverized and sent to a pathology lab for analysis or submitted for a bacterial culture if it is determined that the infection is bacterial instead of fungal.
Determining what kind of infection you have and what to do about it are very important when dealing with a nail infection of any kind. Having the infected area looked at by a physician, preferably a dermatologist, is the best way to deal with these diseases as they can help to rule out and diagnose serious problems as well as knowing what to do about the infection in the first place.
Easily Applied Home Nail Fungus Remedies
Having unattractive toenails is embarrassing and even humiliating. There are many ways to solve this incredibly common problem.
How Does My Nail Become Infected?
Toenails come into contact with microorganisms that get onto the skin, the nail sheath and underneath the nail to the nail bed. Any and all of these places can easily become a hotbed (literally) for infection. Once you have contracted a fungal infection, it can be very difficult to cure.
As these microorganisms are fungal spores, they thrive in places that have no light and high humidity. This makes the feet very susceptible to infection because we are all accustomed to wearing shoes. Especially because many people wear the same pair of shoes day in and day out, not allowing time for them to dry and air between wearings.
Trimming your toenails too close to the skin can cause accidental cuts, providing another entry point for these fungal spores.
Shoes that fit to tightly can also be a cause of toenail fungus infection as they leave no room for your feet to breath and they can cause the breakdown of the nail where they rub, leaving an opening for the fungus to invade.
Standard Symptoms of Nail Fungus Infection
Here are some very simple ways to recognize a toenail fungus infection:
- A discoloration of the toenail, white to yellow
- The nail becomes thick and disfigured
- A stinging pain from under and around the nail
- Brown or black spots developing on the nail
- Parts of the nail crumble or flake off
- A foul odor coming from the nail
- Oozing pus from around the nail
- Toenail falling off entirely
Recommended Home Remedies for Fungal Nail Infection
The faster you catch a fungal nail infection, the easier it is to get rid of it. The early stages can be treated with any of the remedies listed below:
- ClearFungus – This is the leading natural remedy for curing toenail fungus. This is considered more of a natural product anti-fungal treatment than a home remedy as it is specially formulated to kill toenail fungus and promote new nail growth.
- Vicks VapoRub – Although no one quite understands why, Vicks VapoRub seems to prove very effective at stopping the growth of fungal infection. It does not kill the fungus but does inhibit growth, which can encourage healthy nail growth until the infection has been trimmed entirely away. No studies have been done on this but many people swear by it.
- Hydrogen Peroxide, Listerine and Rubbing Alcohol – Combined or separately, all of these chemicals have been shown to have some effect on nail fungus as they all posses antiseptic properties. Soak your toenails in your choice of these solutions (again, combined or separately) for twenty minutes, two times a day.
- Tea Tree Oil – This is a powerful essential oil that contains antiseptic and antifungal components. Wash and thoroughly dry the foot, then rub the affected nail(s) and surrounding skin with Tea Tree Oil twice a day.
- Vinegar – Soaking your toes in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water in a large tub or bowl for 20-30 minutes, then washing and thoroughly drying your feet until the infection has cleared.
These remedies are good for stopping the infection early on. If you follow these instructions closely and stick to the regular process, you should be able to clear up your infection by yourself. If your symptoms are bad to begin with, or if they worsen, seeking the help of a medical professional will become necessary.