Onychomycosis or tinea unguium is a common fungal infection often seen in toenail and finger nails. Toenail fungus or its medical name of onychomycosis is caused by a fungus from a group called dermatophytes. Though it can also affect the fingernails, toenails are more commonly affected because the feet provide the ideal environment, trapped in shoes all day in the dark where it gets warm and damp. You can catch the fungus from public areas like pools, using another person’s shoes or towel that have it, and you can also get it from an injury to the nail, incorrect cutting or you may be more susceptible to fungus than others. But before you can start the slow process of treating toenail fungus you need to know first if that is what you have. So here is information on identifying toenail fungus symptoms.
This is often the first sign of a toenail fungus infection. At the beginning of the infection there may be small patches, spots or streaks on the nail that look white or yellow. However as the infection worsens the over all color can change to yellow, brown or even black and the shine of the nail dulls.
Nails can become more brittle and there can be crumbling or flaking of the nail. The edges can become jagged and clipping doesn’t help. If it gets to a very severe problem it can lead to the nail crumbling or breaking off. The nail gets thicker and harder to cut. If you are having this problem there are toenail clippers designed like scissors that tend to work better
Hyperkeratosis or scaling under the nail is an abnormal thickening of the skin in and around the nail and the nail bed. A soft yellow keratin material often gets accumulated between the nail plate leading to hyperkeratosis. This keratin deposit leads to thickening and hence a gap between the nail bed and the nail.
Lateral Onychomycosis is the condition when Straight Yellow Lines appear on the nails. In this case, the nail gets detached from the nail bed at the base and it’s side and helps accumulate dirt and grime. Thus the air under the nail causes yellow or brown lines.
A bad odor is often associated with any and every fungal infection. Check for any unpleasant odor coming from your toenail or finger nails and report to your doctor with immediate effect.
A distorted nail may be a sign to many conditions, related to the hormone, calcium deficiency, aging or a fungal infection related to the nails. Thus fix an appointment with your local physician for an in-depth investigation.
A complete loss of nail may be due to various reasons. Topping the list is a severe and untreated fungal infection which has been thriving and growing within the pits or the nail bed for long, thus the complete loss of a nail. A complete loss of nail might either happen gradually or suddenly one fine day, depending on the extent of the infection and external trauma.
The chipping of nails is scientifically known as Distal Onychomycosis. In this case, the nails become brittle and start splitting and starts to chip off from the sides. This can be a cause for irritation as the chipped nails get stuck to fabric and other objects leading to further chipping and painful conditions.
Leukonychia is the appearance of white flakes on the surface of the nail. This is often known as milk spots due to its white dot-like appearance or white specs often seen very prominently through the surface of the nail. This condition might also be caused due to several other conditions like arsenic poisoning, mineral deficiency or hepatic cirrhosis, thus one has to report to one’s house physician on immediate onset of the white flakes on the surface of the nail.
When yellow dots appear at the bottom of the nail, it is referred to as Proximal Onychomycosis. This nail condition, though rare in healthy people but is often found in patients who are immune suppressed. The fungus penetrates till the newly formed nail plate through the proximal nail fold. Yellow spots are often seen through the surface of the nail, especially at the bottom of the nail.
Several fungal infections, related to the nails are associated with frequent stinging pain in the affected area. Check for similar symptoms and report to the nearest Doctor as soon as possible. The nail can become sensitive to pressure and wearing shoes is uncomfortable. If a lot of pressure is applied or you injure the toe more pain than usual occurs.
Because the fungus causes the nail to lift slightly keratinous debris can collect under the nail and can make the nail swell. A nasty smell can come from the debris and it only cleans out permanently when the infection is cleared up.Distortion The nail can become distorted, lumpy, growing crooked and trimming doesn’t correct it. The nail can become sensitive to pressure and wearing shoes is uncomfortable.
When you visit the doctor he or she will listen to your symptoms as well as examining the toes affected. They may take a scraping to be sent to a lab to identify which fungus is the cause of the infection. It is important to deal with the condition as it can lead to nail loss and permanent damage to the nail bed. Treatment will take some dedication and patience though whichever option you decide on. Once you find any of the above symptoms of nail fungus, take immediate action in treating the same as a stitch in time saves nine.
Dr. Soumya Podduturi is an Aesthetic Dermatologist, Dermatologist, Dermatosurgeon, Trichologist, Pediatric Dermatologist, Cosmetologist with 8 Years Experience