Any of us can get the fungus. This is a contagious disease that is transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person and usually affects the nails and skin. If the nail plate has changed, started to disintegrate, changed color, it means that an infection has occurred and onychomycosis has developed. It affects 20% of the world's adult population.
Most people have no idea what onychomycosis is and how dangerous it is. Pathogenic microorganisms, penetrating the structure of the nail, change it. In addition to the aesthetic problem, fungi are capable of poisoning the whole body with toxins. This leads to allergic reactions, reduced protective functions of the body and diseases of internal organs.
Nail fungus can be infected only under favorable conditions. The skin usually has an acidic environment, which prevents the penetration of various infections. If its pH has changed to alkaline for some reason, then the reproduction and growth of pathogenic organisms increases dramatically.
A humid environment also encourages infection. A person can become infected if personal hygiene or simple rules of conduct in public places are not followed. Dead scales on a patient's skin or nails are a source of infection.Causes of nail fungus can be as follows:
- There is a risk of infection when visiting beaches, saunas, baths, water parks, showers, swimming pools, fitness centers. Walking barefoot on a wet surface and having cracks or wounds on your feet, the probability of "picking up" fungi on your feet is very high.
- Improperly placed tight shoes, synthetic socks, tights increase the sweating of the feet, which leads to a change in the acid-base balance of the skin. Its protective functions are reduced, and this can lead to the appearance and spread of the fungus.
- Weakened immunity, prolonged use of antibiotics, corticosteroids, antibacterial therapy contributes to onychomycosis infection.
- Diabetes mellitus in the elderly is a common cause of the disease.
- In case of contact with shoes infected with fungi, socks, towels, washcloths, manicure sets and other personal accessories of the patient, the infection occurs in 90% of cases.
The infection first occurs on a small area of the nail, usually on the edge. Then the inflammatory process increases and spreads to other zones or penetrates deeper into the nail plate. The sooner a fungus is found on the nails, the easier it is to cure. Therefore, at the first signs, treatment should begin immediately.
How the disease manifests
Onychomycosis in a person can be determined not only by a specialist, but also by the patient himself. The main signs of nail fungus are as follows:
- The nail plate changes color, from light yellow to black. The color depends on what type of fungus has infected the nails;
- the shape and contour of the nail plate are transformed;
- the nail crumbles, peels, thickens, the natural shine disappears;
- bad smell, unpleasant, painful sensations on the fingertips, near the nail plate.
It is important to recognize the disease in time to avoid further spread to the skin of the feet and other parts of the toes. The doctor will be able to correctly assess the degree of fungal infection and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
There are 3 stages of fungus:
- No obvious signs such as shape change, stratum corneum thickening, cracks. It is very difficult to recognize the disease during this period. But the appearance of barely noticeable spots on the surface of the nail plate, a small change in the shadow of the stratum corneum, can warn you.
- There are clear signs of nail fungus. The color of the nail surface changes, from pink, to yellow or brown, the natural shine and smoothness disappear. The lateral edges of the nails are thickened, crumbled, deformed.
- It is considered a neglected form, in which the infection covers the entire surface of the cornea. It thickens, keratinocytes increase, fragility increases. Cutting such a nail is very problematic, its edges are bent inwards and grow into the skin of the fingers, which gives the patient pain when walking.
Complications after stage 3 are characterized by peeling of keratinocytes from the growth layer. This condition is accompanied by severe pain and an unpleasant odor. The incubation period of the fungus on the nails is 3 weeks, after which it is already possible to diagnose the disease and start antifungal therapy.
Types of nail fungus
Several types of fungi are diagnosed with onychomycosis.
- Dermatophytes usually appear as turbidity of platinum nails. Yellow spots form on the edges or in the middle. Over time, the yellow edge moves away from the stratum corneum. Longitudinal stripes are sometimes seen along the damaged area.
- The yeast fungus changes the structure of the nail, deforming it. The nail plate becomes uneven, waves and furrows appear, after a while the color of the nail takes on a yellowish color and may lag behind. At the same time, nail rollers can fester and thicken.
- Mold is detected in people with weakened immunity during long-term drug therapy. It is manifested by a change in the color palette of the nail. It is initially yellow, then the hue changes, and can be like greenish, bluish, or even black. In this case, the treatment is the shortest and lasts 1-1. 5 months, because the mold does not penetrate deep into the nail plate, but remains only on the surface.
Effective infection control techniques
Many patients worry about how to get rid of nail fungus quickly and permanently. Treatment of onychomycosis in the early stages does not take long. It can be managed with topical antifungal agents. They spread deep into the stratum corneum and inhibit the growth and reproduction of pathogenic fungi. Such a treatment will be effective if a small area of the nail plate is affected, no more than 1/3.
Anti-fungal nail polishes are endowed with positive healing properties. They have a liquid texture, are easy to apply and penetrate into small cracks on the nail. When applied, the varnish is immediately absorbed and dried, creating a permanent film. It prevents the entry of oxygen into the nail, thus stopping the growth and reproduction of fungi.
Apply once a day. It is problematic to remove nail polish from the surface of the nail plate, which allows you to effectively affect the infection.
Antifungal drugs, creams and ointments can also be used. They are more effective compared to varnishes and are used in identifying stage 2 disease. Before applying the cream, you must remove the damaged surface of the nail plate.
Apply cream or ointment 2 times a day and cover the affected area with a small amount. To achieve maximum effect after applying the cream, it is necessary to stick the infected area with a band-aid.
Methods of treating onychomycosis depend on the degree of neglect and the form identified. It takes place only under the supervision of a doctor, because all drugs against fungal infections are very toxic. The specialist examines the patient and takes a small piece of nail for laboratory research to determine the type of fungus. In case the disease has affected all platinum nails and the fungus has been progressing for more than a year, a complex treatment is prescribed, which includes local and internal use of medications.
Oral systemic antibiotics have been shown to be useful in the treatment of fungal infections. Such drugs, in combination with ointments, deprive the fungus of the ability to grow deep into the nail and stop the growth of colonies. This type of treatment is long lasting and lasts about a year.
Medicine does not stand still, effective methods are constantly being developed and applied in the fight against fungal diseases. In 2010, new methods appeared in the treatment of onychomycosis. Photodynamic treatment of nail plates infected with fungi and laser treatment on special lasers for "nails" in combination with antimicrobial agents give a tangible positive effect and shorten the healing time.
The peculiarity of laser therapy lies in the exposure of the fungus to temperatures up to 70 degrees, at which slow fungi die, and the very source of the spread of the disease is the mycelium.
Laser treatment does not affect healthy skin around the nail, it works exclusively on fungal organisms that die during several sessions.
Traditional medicine in the treatment of fungi
You can try to deal with the disease at home. Treatment should begin with soap and soda baths that soften the nail plate. It should be cleaned from the stratum corneum with a manicure file. Such bathing and cleaning must be carried out once a week, for 6 months. The affected area should be treated with tea tree oil. To improve the therapeutic effect, you can glue the infected nail plate with adhesive plaster, after you put a tampon soaked in equal proportions of lavender and tea oils on it.
Traditional methods in the treatment of nail fungus are different and usually have a positive and rapid result, provided that the disease is in its infancy.Among the most effective are:
- Treatment of affected areas with hydrogen peroxide. Well-steamed nails should be moistened 2-3 times a day with cotton wool moistened with hydrogen peroxide. After a few days the nail plate will become much softer and can be cut with nail scissors.
- The use of celandine in folk medicine has proven its effectiveness in the treatment of skin diseases, as well as in fungal infections of various etiologies. Iodinol is added to dry chopped celandine (bought at the pharmacy). These two components are carefully re-soaked and the resulting mixture is applied to the affected area. The nail is wrapped in plastic wrap and left overnight. To cure stage 1-2 of the fungus, it is sufficient to carry out 3-5 such procedures.
- Propolis is considered an effective antifungal drug. 20% of propolis tincture purchased at the pharmacy is applied to the affected area in the form of a compress. A cotton swab moistened with the medicine is applied to the nail plate and closed with a plaster. In time, the affected nail will squeeze out the healthy one.
- Golden mustache is an amazing plant that helps with various diseases. When treating the fungus, it is necessary to attach the softened leaf of the plant to the parched nail and leave it overnight under the film. In the morning, you should cut off the softened part as much as possible, to the very root. The golden mustache should only be applied to the area of the nail plate, without touching the skin around, to avoid burns. Soon the nail will recover and be healthy and strong.
- If nail fungus has infected your hands, you can get rid of it with tar soap. It is necessary to wash your hands thoroughly with it, paying special attention to the affected areas. Then you need to dip your nails in a highly concentrated salt solution and wrap overnight. The positive effect will come after a week.
Treating nail fungus is a long process. Regardless of the therapy chosen, you should be patient and use the medications prescribed by your doctor regularly. Preventive measures should also not be forgotten in order to prevent infection again.
Only the doctor decides how to treat the fungus on the nails after a thorough examination of the patient and after the results of laboratory tests. In order to avoid re-infection with the fungus, it is necessary to use medications for preventive purposes. Monitor the condition of the nails and skin, if the first signs of the disease are detected, consult a specialist immediately.Remember that in the early stages, fungi heal quickly and efficiently.