Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails.
What are the signs and symptoms of nail fungus?
If you notice any of the following signs of change in your nails your may have nail fungus:
The diagnosis of a nail fungal infection is confirmed by scraping or clipping some of the nail for analysis under a microscope at the lab or sending it for a culture which may take up to 3 weeks for the results. Problems which can mimic fungus infections include psoriasis and some systemic conditions therefore confirmation by the pathologist is important.
What causes fungal nail infections?
Fungal nail infections are usually seen in adults and are often associated with a fungal infection of the feet (athlete’s foot). Toenails are affected more often than fingernails.
Fungi and bacteria are a normal part of our environment. Certain factors contribute to development of a fungal infection of the nails. The offending fungi thrive in warm, moist environments and in people who experience excessive sweating.
Other contributing factors which increase susceptibility to nail fungi include:
What are the treatment options for nail fungus?
Over-the-counter creams and ointments alone usually do not help treat this condition. Often a prescription for antifungal medicine such as Lamisil, Sporanox or Nizoral is required. The medicine is taken by mouth for about 3 to 6 months for toenails; a shorter time for fingernails. Due to the nature of the medication lab tests are necessary to check for potential liver damage. Alcohol cannot be consumed while on this medication. The success rate is approximately 80%.
The Nd:Yag 1064 (Genesis) laser has been approved by the FDA in the US and the Health Canada for the treatment of nail fungus. Two treatments with the laser have proven to eradicate nail fungus in 70% of cases. More treatments may improve this efficacy. The nail feels warm during the treatment. There is no need for anesthesia. Normally, the laser eradicates the fungus so that new, non-infected nails will grow.
What complications can occur?
**Actual patients. Individual results may vary.
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