Onychomycosis (ony-cho-my-co-sis) is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails. This ailment causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. At first glance, onychomycosis appears to be only a cosmetic concern. However, without treatment, the toenails can become abnormally thick forcing the toe to press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.
Generally, onychomycosis does not host any symptoms. Individuals seek treatment for cosmetic reason, not because they are experiencing pain. However, if the disease continues to progress without treatment, onychomycosis may interfere with standing, walking, and exercising.
Onychomycosis is easily identified by its appearance. However, there are similar conditions and infections that can cause the nails to host a similar appearance to onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is generally established by laboratory tests before beginning treatment. Treatments for this condition can be long whether one chooses an oral medication or a topical treatment. The earlier treatment is started usually translates to less time for the infection to clear, so if you suspect a fungus... don't wait to begin treatment.
Risk factors making one more susceptible to onychomycosis include:
- Family history
- Advancing age
- Poor health
- Showering in communal showers—such as fitness clubs
- Habitually wearing shoes that don’t allow proper airflow
Treatment options vary by individual and severity of the ailment. The two most common treatment options that Dr. Cain recommends are oral medication, such as Lamisil, and topical treatment with products such as Clarus and Tineacide Solution. After being examined by and talking with Dr. Cain about these options a decision can be made determining which treatment options would be best for each individual patient. Regardless of the treatment plan, unfortunately it is common for it to take several months for noticable improvement in the appearance of the nails. This is why it is so important to seek treatment as soon as the signs of a fungal infection are noticed. The sooner the treatment is started the sooner healthy nails can be restored.