O is for Onychomycosis

November 29, 2012

Onychomycosis is a hard to treat fungal infection of the toenails.


Onychomycosis, also known as toenail fungus, is a fungal infection that affects the nails, including those on the feet. It is primarily caused by various types of fungi called dermatophytes, but other fungi such as yeasts and molds can also be responsible. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, making the feet a common location for infection.

Risk factors that contribute to the development of onychomycosis:

  1. Dermatophyte exposure: Dermatophytes are present in various environments, such as public swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers. Direct contact with these fungi can lead to infection.
  2. Poor foot hygiene: Inadequate foot hygiene, such as not properly drying the feet after bathing or sweating excessively, creates a favorable environment for fungal growth.
  3. Trauma to the nail: Any injury or trauma to the toenail, such as stubbing the toe or repetitive pressure from ill-fitting shoes, can damage the nail and create an entry point for fungal infection.
  4. Weakened immune system: Individuals with a weakened immune system, such as those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or taking immunosuppressive medications, are more susceptible to fungal infections, including onychomycosis.
  5. Age: The risk of developing onychomycosis increases with age, as nails become more brittle and prone to damage.
  6. Nail abnormalities: Certain nail conditions, such as nail psoriasis or nail dystrophy, can make the nails more susceptible to fungal infection.
  7. Genetic factors: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to fungal infections.

Symptoms of onychomycosis include thickened, discolored nails (usually yellow or brown), brittle or crumbly nails, distorted nail shape, separation of the nail from the nail bed, and sometimes a foul odor. The infection may spread to other nails or even the surrounding skin if left untreated.

Treatment options for onychomycosis include topical antifungal medications, oral antifungal medications, or a combination of both. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or podiatrist, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. They may recommend strategies for preventing recurrence and provide guidance on proper foot hygiene to reduce the risk of fungal infections. Treatment for onychomycosis can take a long time.


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