Onychomycosis: Nail Fungus
While it is commonly known as nail fungus, its scientific name is known as onychomycosis. This infection changes the appearance of the nail with regards to color and thickness. Learn more about this problem below.
Causes and symptoms of onychomycosis
This is a very common disease among people all around the world, which starts with one finger or toe and then spreads to all of the others with time and lack of treatment. Some can also have athlete’s foot since the fungus can begin to affect the skin as well.
Onychomycosis can be seen simply by the changes in the nail, whether it be color or thickness, as it doesn’t have symptoms of pain or discomfort. Many people take too long before they treat the fungus and for this reason require several months or years to completely recover.
Onychomycosis is usually an aesthetic issue with the nails, but in serious cases it can cause chronic pain that is hard to solve. Early diagnosis makes it easier to permanently get rid of nail fungus.
There are three types of fungus that are among the causes of onychomycosis, one of the better known is called Candida albicans. It is transmitted through direct contact and can coexist with people without forming an infection, however, certain factors that weaken the immune system can increase the risk of developing this disease.
Aging is one of these reasons since fungus can begin to form with age, as the body’s defense system weakens. When the foot is constantly moist, as it often is for swimmers or people who don’t use appropriate footwear (rubber shoes, nylon socks, etc.). Also suffering from diseases such as psoriasis, athlete’s foot, etc.
Diabetes is related to onychomycosis since it affects the body’s defenses. It is also more likely for onychomycosis to occur if there is a family history, due to a genetic predisposition or due to sharing the same towels, tubs, footwear, etc. Finally, immunosuppression or the use of biologic drugs can cause nail fungus.
It is believed that the main issue is an aesthetic one due to the changes in appearance to the nail. You can distinguish between fives kinds of modifications:
- The edge of the nail becomes yellow and thick, and the edge becomes rugged and fragmented.
- It damages the root of the nail, with white and yellow zones.
- Small white dots or spots can be seen on the surface of the nail.
- A purple nail color (with rare cases of melanonychia).
- The nail becomes deformed, it is curved, thickened, and hardened, which breaks pieces off easily.
Hygiene is very important to prevent an outbreak of onychomycosis, avoiding the spreading of fungus and bacteria. It is also important to wash and thoroughly dry hands. Use proper cotton socks that aren’t too tight and allow for proper air flow. Avoid bathing barefoot in changing rooms and gyms, and don’t share a towel with someone who is infected.
When someone has onychomycosis, it is important to keep nails trimmed so they don’t grow longer than the tip of the finger. You need to disinfect tools after using them. Don’t use fake nails, and don’t paint them.
Home remedies for nail fungus
Tea tree oil is a well-known and natural treatment for onychomycosis, that works well for slight or moderate cases since it is a potent fungicide. Mix equal amounts of tea tree oil, with olive oil and thyme oil. Cover the affected area with this mixture, with cotton or a brush (that isn’t used for anything else). Allow it to settle for 15 minutes and brush it with a toothbrush on the nail. When the foot is clean and dry, apply some tea tree oil drops to the nail.
A second treatment that is commonly known to treat nail fungus is apple vinegar. To do this, you prepare a foot bath with equal amounts of vinegar and warm water. Submerge feet and hands (or at least soak the nails) for 20 minutes. Thoroughly dry with a towel or hair dryer, focusing on the affected nail and also between the fingers and toes.
Another option using vinegar is to mix two spoonfuls with two spoonfuls of roughly ground rice flour. Put this on the nail for 15 minutes (repeating the previously mentioned drying process).
Mix baking soda and water to form a paste. Apply this mixture with cotton and spread it over the nail, trying to also apply it to skin under the affected nail. Let it set for a few minutes, rinse, and dry the nail.
Place two cups of water and three spoonfuls of thyme into a pan. Boil for five minutes. Turn off the burner, cover it, and allow it to cool. Soak a cotton or rag and cover the nails that have onychomycosis.
Boil one liter of water with ten pieces of cinnamon. Lower the temperature and cook for five minutes. Let it settle for 45 minutes and pour it into a container while it is still warm so that you can soak your nails.
Soak a cotton with the juice from an onion. Apply it to the nail fungus. You can also rub half of the onion directly to the foot.
Mix a spoonful of lemon juice, five drops of hydrogen peroxide, and two spoonfuls of aloe vera gel. Place this on the affected nail and allow it to dry.
Boil five cloves of garlic in a cup of water. Pour this into a container with cold water and submerge the feet for 15 minutes. Repeat this every day for a month.