Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Nail Fungus

treatment of nail fungus with nail polish

Among toenail diseases, a special place belongs to onychomycosis, since this pathology affects every 10 inhabitants of the planet. Treating toenail fungus is a very time-consuming process because therapy usually begins when the disease is at an advanced stage. According to research data, the disease most often affects men aged 40 to 45 years and, after 60 years, the risk of developing the pathology increases by 3 to 4 times. Timely treatment will help eliminate the problem.

The reasons for the development of the pathology

Very rarely, a fungal infection only affects the nail plate. Most of the time, the inflammatory process spreads to the fingers and toes. The disease can be caused by three types of fungi: yeasts, molds and dermatophytes. The latter cause the disease most of the time. The reasons for the development of the infection can be:

yellowing of the nails with fungus
  • Elderly patients often suffer from various chronic illnesses, do not have the opportunity to perform thorough foot hygiene, have a weakened immune system, slow blood circulation. The combination of these factors often leads to fungal infections.
  • Patients with diabetes mellitus are at risk because they have concomitant vascular pathologies, especially small capillaries in the feet. A frequent complication of these diseases is the appearance of small ulcerations, on whose surface the fungi develop quickly.
  • Frequent microtrauma of the nail plate during a cut or hematoma. Everyone faces this problem from time to time. As a rule, for this reason, a fungus appears on the toenail, which is complicated to treat, as it is this area that is injured more often than the others and has a denser structure.
  • Systemic and chronic diseases that affect the vascular system: varicose veins, scleroderma, lupus erythematosus. Most of the time, these diseases are accompanied by a violation of the blood supply to the tissues, which negatively affects the protective barrier and causes the appearance of a fungus.
  • If the patient already has a fungal infection in any part of the body, the risk of nail plate infection increases several times.
  • The weakening of the immune system and defenses makes the person susceptible to any type of pathogenic microorganism. Just catch a cold and start the pathological process.
  • Fans of saunas and public baths are 4 times more likely to suffer from onychomycosis, as the hygiene of rooms, swimming pools and showers is not always adequate.
damage to nail plates with fungus

The disease belongs to the infectious group. You can be infected by a sick person, pets, as well as by contact with soil, water and plants infected with pathogens.

Common forms of onychomycosis

The treatment of toenail ringworm often depends on the form of the pathological process. The most common are as follows:

Toenail fungus symptoms, example 1
  1. The lateral-distal form is considered the early stage of the disease. It mainly affects the free or lateral edge of the nail plate, the entire area of the nail gradually suffering. As a rule, this form of fungus turns into a more complicated one.
  2. The superficial white type of pathology is most often caused by fungi. In the early stages, the nail plate starts to lighten, it may peel and fall off. Most of the time, this form appears in people whose professional activity is associated with prolonged hand contact with water. As a result, the nail softens and lesions appear. This variety is seen in the case of incomplete destruction of the infection.
  3. It is very rare to find the proximal shape, which causes thickening of the toenails. A characteristic of this type of disease is that the lesion starts in the region of the nail root, close to the cuticle. This is why patients with this form rarely see a doctor in the early stages. As the pathology progresses, even a healthy nail can peel.
  4. The most dangerous form is total dystrophy. The pathology becomes a consequence of the lack of treatment for one of the previous forms. It is characterized by a slow progression over the years. If the process develops quickly, they talk about the presence of a concomitant systemic disease. It is mainly seen in elderly patients.

Either way requires qualified treatment. In its absence, the infection penetrates deeper, which makes combat no more difficult.

Symptoms of a pathological condition

Early signs of onychomycosis are similar to other toenail diseases. Violation of the nail structure can be manifested by its thickening or thinning. Atrophic processes indicate the presence of severe concomitant pathologies. The disease is manifested by the following symptoms:

toenail fungus symptoms example 2
  • Uniform discoloration of the nail plate, which depends on the type of pathogen. Most of the time, the dish turns yellow.
  • The surface becomes rough and porous. As you progress, this symptom gets worse.
  • White spots may appear under the nail, appearing as a result of its flaking at the base.
  • Gradual delamination of the structure from the free edge.
  • There is a loss of shine associated with the detachment of a thin top layer or skin, the nail looks unnatural.
  • Slow peeling of the entire dish. As a rule, the process starts in the growth zone.
  • The appearance of crumbs on the surface, which are exfoliated areas of the nail.
  • Complete destruction of the plate from the free edge.

Concomitant signs are changes in the skin around the affected area: peeling of the epidermis of the feet, toes, intensive burr formation. Any of the symptoms require qualified medical attention.

Basic diagnostic methods

toenail fungus symptoms, example 3

During the initial examination, the physician should differentiate onychomycosis from other skin diseases (psoriasis, keratoderma) that have similar clinical manifestations. Based on these data, a preliminary diagnosis is made, which can only be confirmed by more accurate examination methods.

Then, a sample of the affected nail is taken to determine the presence of fungal infection in its structure. The final conclusion about why the destruction of the nail occurs and what kind of fungus caused the process can be made through a culture study. During the procedure, the specific type of fungus causing the disease is identified. It is after this study that the final diagnosis is made. With the correct determination of the type of pathogen, the specialist selects the appropriate treatment regimen to deal with the disease as quickly as possible.

drug therapy regimen

Drug therapy aims to destroy the pathogen at the focus of the injury and throughout the body, if the disease is at an advanced stage. Conservative therapy involves both local and systemic treatment.

An easy degree of fungal pathology, when small changes in the plaque are observed without disturbing the structure and associated symptoms, is treated with topical medications:

Nail treatment for fungal infection
  1. Preparations from the group of azoles are intended to retard the growth and development of pathogens. Medicines are available in the form of a cream, ointment and solution. Apply morning and night until symptoms completely disappear. After that, it is recommended to use the drug for another 5 to 7 days to consolidate the result and exclude a relapse.
  2. Means that destroy fungal cells, which prevents their further development. The default scheme assumes using funds twice a day.
  3. Hydroxypyridone derivatives prevent the reproduction of pathogens. Most often, agents are prescribed in the form of a cream or enamel, which is used in the morning and evening.
  4. Salicylic and sulfuric ointment belongs to the group of keratolytics. Using the product helps soften dead tissue so that fungi cannot continue to develop due to lack of nutrition. Gradually, the ointment helps to peel off the affected nail. The number of applications per day depends on the degree of damage to the plaque.
  5. To prevent the addition of a bacterial infection, an alcoholic infusion of iodine is used in the form of compresses.
  6. To strengthen the immune system, multivitamin complexes are prescribed. This helps the body to deal with the symptoms of onychomycosis more quickly.

If the surrounding tissues are involved in the pathological process, there is no effect of local treatment and the complete destruction of the nail plate is observed, the use of systemic drugs is indicated.

Duration of treatment and dosage are determined only by the doctor. It is unacceptable to use the medications on their own as there is a high risk of developing adverse reactions.

Alternative ways to solve the problem

In some cases, surgical removal of the affected nail is indicated. This method is almost never used in modern medical practice. The indication for the procedure may be the addition of bacterial infection and the complete absence of visible effect from the use of local and systemic drugs. However, pill-taking does not stop after the inflammation is removed.

before and after nail fungus treatment

An alternative to surgical intervention is plaque dissolution with special solutions that promote layer-by-layer tissue death and help the affected plaque to release safely. This method is practiced at home. You should not start the procedure without consulting a specialist.

To date, the effectiveness of laser therapy has been proven in the treatment of onychomycosis. The procedure consists of exposing the affected area to laser beams that penetrate deep into the structure and destroy the pathogens. The principle of action is similar to that of local antifungals. This treatment is indicated for intolerance to these funds. A prerequisite for laser therapy is its combination with medication in pills.

traditional medicine recipes

Onychomycosis was known to ancient healers, so there are many folk remedies that successfully deal with the signs of pathology. The most effective are medicinal baths with the addition of medicinal herbs, as well as homemade solutions for local use:

foot bath for nail fungus
  1. An effective remedy is a bath with the addition of celandine decoction. The broth must be prepared from 200 g of crushed raw material and 2 liters of water. Boil the mixture for 20 minutes, let it cool to a comfortable temperature. Procedure time 20-30 minutes, repeat daily until symptoms disappear.
  2. Sequential baths can be done daily for 2 weeks. To prepare the broth, 2 liters of water and 40 g of dry grass will be needed, the mixture is boiled for 15 minutes and is ready to use after 20 minutes of infusion. The session lasts 30 minutes.
  3. To treat the affected nail, it is necessary to prepare an infusion of 100 ml of medicinal alcohol and 10 g of fresh lavender flowers. It is necessary to insist on the medicine for 7 to 8 days. After that, the solution is used to treat the areas of inflammation in the morning and evening until complete recovery.

Alternative medicine is recommended to be used in combination with medication and only after approval from the treating physician. It must be understood that the fungus is not only a cosmetic defect, but also a severe blow to the whole body. In the absence of treatment, a bacterial infection occurs, which significantly complicates therapy. It is recommended to consult a specialist at the first sign of illness.