The Nails and Nail Fungus
The main composition of the nails is a hard protein called keratin. One of the building blocks that compose the body is protein.
In order for the ends of the fingers and toes to be protected from any type of trauma or injury, a person must know how to perform proper nail care. It is very important for every person to know how to do proper nail care because most of an individual’s daily activities are done using the hands and feet.
Through the use of the hands, a person is able to demonstrate compassion and caring, love, kindness, trust, forgiveness and thankfulness. Also, transmission of all kinds of bacteria and infectious organisms through direct contact is passed on from individual to individual through the hands.
Contact with these harmful organisms threatens the optimum functioning of an individual’s health. Proper prevention is necessary to avoid illness and disease conditions.
To avoid nail fungus and reduce the recurrence of infections, a person needs to practice good hand and foot hygiene by following these tips:
Nail should be trimmed, kept dry and clean.
When wearing occlusive footwear, a person should wear socks that wick away the moisture. Socks should be changed often especially when a person sweats excessively. Shoes should be taken off occasionally during the day and after exercise.
You can opt to use anti-fungal spray or powder.
To prevent overexposure to water, wear rubber gloves. After using, turn gloves inside out to keep them dry.
Avoid pricking the skin surrounding your nails to prevent germs from accessing the nails and skin.
Avoid going barefoot in public places.
Make sure that the manicure and pedicure salon you frequent is trustworthy and reputable.
Do not coat your nails with nail polish often to hide the condition because it just worsens it.
Wash your hands often. Proper hand washing is important to avoid the spread of infection.
But there are also times that disease conditions hit a person unexpectedly. One disease condition that affects and targets the nails is nail fungus. Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis is the fungus that causes the nails to become brittle, usually appearing as a yellowish or whitish discoloration, is communicable and if severe, is painful. Nail fungus infection is very distinguishable in comparison with a regular, healthy nail because it totally destroys ruins and deforms the nail.
Among the areas where nail fungus infection is often acquired are in public places such as common shower rooms, bathing places, swimming pools, gym facilities, hot tubs and saunas. Occlusive footwear, wearing tight-fitting gloves, excessive perspiration, poor peripheral circulation, poor hygiene practices, a compromised immune system and constant nail trauma can also cause nail fungus infection to develop. Athletes are more prone in acquiring the nail infection than non-athletes as well as men are twice as much than women.
In the United States alone there is an estimated percentage rate of 2-3% of infection occurring which already accounts for more or less 6 million Americans. This is a very alarming condition that requires special attention. Nail fungus infection can also be acquired because of an underlying disease condition such as diabetes mellitus, sexually-transmitted diseases or simply old age.
It is such a disgusting condition that majority of those that get infected try to hide it instead of having it checked by a medical professional. Applying nail polish to the infected nail only worsens it so does wearing closed footwear. This type of fungus loves dark and moist environments such as people with sweaty feet who constantly wear occlusive footwear add up to the infection making it more severe.
Because this condition has distressed many, treatments and home remedies have been developed. The following are the conventional and alternative treatments that are often used:
Topical Medications: Topical antifungal agents taking the form of sprays, powders, creams and gels haven been used to treat fungal infection. Over-the-counter products often contain miconazole nitrate and tolfanate. Studies have shown that medications that have allylamines cure infections slightly more than azoles.
An ointment that contains benzoic and salicylic acid that has been existing for some time is the Whitfield’s ointment. It often takes three to four weeks for a topical treatment to take effect, some may even take longer. But patients however who experiences relief from itching which is also associated with the infection, do not bother to complete the course of therapy prescribed anymore leading to its recurrence.
People should take note that anti-itch creams can only alleviate symptoms but does not cure them. In fact, they exacerbate the fungus because it typically enhances the moisture content of the skin, a criteria for growth to progress. For the same reason, some companies are using the gel instead of the cream claiming that gels penetrate the skin more quickly compared to the cream.
Oral medications: Among the oral medications that are commonly used to treat nail fungus are Zetaclear, Itraconazole (Sporanox), Flucanazole (Diflucan) and Terbinafine (Lamisil). With the use of these medications, a new nail grows free from infection, slowly replacing the infected portion of the nail. These medications are usually taken for six to twelve weeks but results can be fully observed once the nail grows back completely.
Infection can be totally eliminated within the period of four months. Recurrence of infections does happen especially when a person constantly exposes his or her nails to warm, moist environments. Side effects due to taking anti-fungal drugs range from skin rashes to liver damage.
Physicians commonly do not prescribe anti-fungal oral medications for people who have liver disease, congestive heart failure or those who are taking certain medications that contradict with the anti-fungal oral drugs.