What Is Onychomycosis?
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails. It can occur in either the fingernails or toenails, but is most often found in toenails. The condition is very common, affecting about 10% of the population. It is found more often in elderly individuals and affects men more frequently than women.
Onychomycosis can be caused by any of the following factors or underlying conditions:
- Exposure to dermatophyte fungus
- Mold exposure
- Yeast infection
- Living in a hot, humid climate
- Poor circulation
- Heavy perspiration
Distal Subungual Onychomycosis
This type of onychomycosis is characterized by a fungal infection that invades the nail bed and the underside of the nail plate.
White Superficial Onychomycosis
This type of onychomycosis is characterized by a fungal infection that invades the superficial layers of the nail plate.
Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis
This type of onychomycosis is characterized by a fungal infection that penetrates the nail plate through the nail fold. It is found most often in immunocompromised patients.
This type of onychomycosis is characterized by fungal infection that invades the fingernails, typically in nails that have been damaged or infected.
- 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
Your primary care physician can diagnose onychomycosis through a physical examination. They will likely confirm the diagnosis by examining a sample of the nail under a microscope. In some cases, a nail bed biopsy is performed. This diagnostic tool can distinguish the different types of fungus that may lead to onychomycosis.
The most common treatment for nail fungus is topical medication. Topical antifungal medications can effectively kill the fungus that is causing onychomycosis in many cases. More severe cases may require the patient to take oral antifungal medications. In the most severe instances, chemical or surgical debridement of the affected nail be necessary.