Nail Fungal Infection – The Signs and Symptoms
Nail fungal infections are not the most dangerous of health conditions that affect people these days, but they are quite common – more common than you would believe. In fact, among the various superficial fungal infections which affect different parts of the body, the occurrence of nail fungal infections in North America, Europe and East Asia is said to be 14%, 23% and 20%, respectively. (Ghannoum & Isham, 2014)
Furthermore, it is said that fungal infections are behind a staggering 50 percent of all dermatological conditions which affect nails. Overall, there are over 35 million people worldwide who have suffered from nail fungal infections in some capacity.
Now the knowledge of such statistics do little to prevent or treat the conditions. However, what it does do is console the patients affected by the condition that they are not suffering alone.
What Is It?
Onychomycosis, tinea unguium, or better known as nail fungal infections are superficial dermatological infections caused by dermatophytes.
These nail fungal infections might affect either the fingernails or the toenails, or in extreme circumstances, both. Toenail fungus is by far the most common of all the other fungal infections. Although nail fungal infections are not limited by age, race, sex, or ethnicity, they are considerably more prevalent in adults, especially the elderly (those who fall in the 60 -70 age bracket or above). (Davis, 2016)
Onychomycosis is divided into a number of sub-types, each that affects nails in a different capacity.
Signs and Symptoms
Fungal infections, on the nails or otherwise, develop over a period of time. Any initial changes that occur as a result of a nail fungal infection are usually too subtle to be noticed immediately. What’s more, fungal infections aren’t painful until they’ve progressed a considerable extent. While the symptoms of a fungal nail infection usually differ (WebMD, 2017), depending on the subtype of the infection that affects you, the most common signs and symptoms to watch out for include:
When to See a Doctor
Nail fungal infections are usually painless and pose no imminent threat to the overall systemic health of an individual. What’s more, the changes that occur as a result of a fungal infection are so subtle and slow that it’s hard to pick up on and identity on an immediate basis, making it even easier to overlook. (American Academy of Dermatology , 2017)
However, as the fungus progresses unchecked, it has the potential to spread to all the finger and toenails to a point where wearing shoes is a particularly painful task. In case normal self-care and hygiene methods have not yielded results in cleaning the nails, or in case the nail becomes increasingly discolored or deformed, it is recommended that you visit a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.
Nail fungal infections, as mentioned earlier, are not painful conditions. However, they do have an adverse aesthetic repercussions that cause people to seek treatment early on. That said, there are a few possible complications to nail fungal infections which have been left untreated. They include:
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