Do you have discoloured, thick and brittle nails that break apart? Then you might suffer from nail fungus, or onychomycosis as the disease is also called. Nail fungus is the most common nail disease, with about 10 percent of the general population suffering from the problem.
Starts in one nail
The fungus grows slowly and initially the symptoms may be very slight and hard to discover. The first sign of nail fungus is often a small white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail. The condition, which is contagious, starts in one nail and may gradually spread to others. Although toenails are normally affected, fungus can also occur on fingernails. If untreated, nail fungus can become bothersome.
How to recognize the symptoms
The first indication of nail fungus is often a small white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail. As the nail fungus develops, you may also experience problems with thickened, dry and fragile nails. A dark colour sometimes develops as debris gets trapped under the infected nail and the nail can harden and start to crumble. If the infection worsens, the nail can start to separate from the nail bed, becoming potentially painful and eventually causing the nail to fall off completely. If left untreated, the infection can spread to additional nails and to other people.
Thrives in moisture and heat
Nail fungus is often due to a fungus called dermatophyte, which is responsible for approximately 90 percent of all fungal nail infections. Nail fungus is contagious and spreads easily where conditions are moist and warm, for example in dressing rooms, gyms, nail salons, shower rooms and public swimming pools. Nail fungus can also spread if you share towels and clothes.
Start treatment early
Nail fungus is often challenging to treat, since the infection is embedded in the nail and therefore difficult to reach. Even when the infection has been treated successfully, continue the treatment until a normal nail has grown out. The sooner you start your treatment, the better the chances of achieving a nicer looking nail and healing the infection.