Have you ever been told during a pedicure that you may have nail fungus? Maybe the nail tech notices some discoloration and they ask you to monitor it. If that discoloration doesn’t grow out with the nail and it gets worse you may have a nail fungus. I have been in the situation where a nail tech mentioned something she saw on my toe nails. It is a little alarming to be told you may have a nail fungus. The nail tech asked me if I had had recently stubbed my toe. In that case I had stubbed my toe and the trauma to my nail had left a mark. I would notice that as the nail grew, the spot on my nail would go away. If this is not the case, have the nails checked out right away. The longer you let nail fungus go, the harder it will be to cure.
There are actually for classic types of nail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis. The most common form of nail fungus in Minneapolis and St. Paul areas is distal subungual onychomycosis which invades the nail bed and the underside of the nail plate. The next type is called white superficial onychomycosis (WSO) is caused by a fungal invasion of the superficial layers of the nail plate and forms “white islands” on the plate. It accounts for only 10% of the onychomycosis cases. Sometimes keratin granulations, which are a reaction to nail polish, can cause the nails to turn a chalky white. WSO can be a misdiagnosis of keratin granulations. A lab test should be performed to confirm.
The third type is proximal subungual onychomycosis which is a fungal penetration of the newly formed nail plate through the proximal nail fold. It is least common in healthy people, but is found more commonly when the person is immunocompromised. Last but not least is candidal onychomycosis. This is a species invasion of the fingernails which usually occurs in persons who frequently immerse their hands in water. It normally requires prior damage of the nail by infection or trauma. I know hair stylists and nail techs in Minnesota that have been diagnosed with this type of fungus.
You are probably asking the question, what am I looking for? A nail fungus infection may begin as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As it spreads deeper into your nail, it may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges. It is usually not painful, just unsightly. Once a nail fungal infection begins, if not treated, it can persist indefinitely.
Fungus lives in warm, moist environments which include swimming pools and showers. It can invade your skin through tiny cuts both visible and invisible or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed. When your nails are continually exposed to warmth and moisture it is the perfect condition for fungi to grow and spread. Nail fungus occurs more in toenails than fingernails because the toenails are often confined in a dark, warm moist environment where fungus can thrive. Next we will focus on treatments for nail fungus and how to maintain healthy nails.