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Onychomycosis: What Causes Nail Fungus?

Onychomycosis: What Causes Nail Fungus?
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Onychomycosis


Onychomycosis is the medical term for nail fungus. This fungal infection occurs mostly in toenails but can also be found in fingernails. It is a very common condition that affects about 10% of the population. Onychomycosis is found more often in elderly individuals and more often in men than in women.

What Causes Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis can occur as the result of any of the following factors:

  • Exposure to dermatophyte fungus
  • Mold exposure
  • Yeast infection
  • Living in a hot, humid climate
  • Poor circulation
  • Heavy perspiration

Types of Onychomycosis

Distal Subungual Onychomycosis

Distal Subungual Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that invades the nail bed and the underside of the nail plate.

White Superficial Onychomycosis

White Superficial Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that invades the superficial layers of the nail plate.

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis

Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that penetrates the nail plate through the nail fold, found most often in immunocompromised patients.

Candidal Onychomycosis

Candidal Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that invades the fingernails, typically in nails that have been damaged or infected.

Onychomycosis Symptoms

  • Thickened or brittle nail
  • Scaling under the nails
  • White or yellow streaks on the nail
  • Flaking white areas on the nail’s surface
  • Appearance of yellow spots at the bottom of the nail
  • Distorted nail

onychomycosis

Diagnosing Onychomycosis

A primary care physician can diagnose onychomycosis during a physical examination. Examining a sample of the nail under a microscope can confirm the diagnosis. A nail bed biopsy may be necessary in some cases to determine the type of fungus that has led to the infection.

Treating Onychomycosis

Topical medication is the most common treatment for nail fungus. Topical antifungal medications work to kill the fungus causing the infection. Severe cases of onychomycosis may need to be treated with oral antifungal medications. In extreme instances, chemical or surgical debridement may be needed.

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