Statistics show that nail fungus (or in scientific terms – onychomycosis) affects from 3% to 10% of people. However, in older people (especially those older than 70–75), that risk grows by several times due to a weakened immune system and a bunch of accompanying diseases.
Obviously, not all the people noticing the signs of this condition haste to receive professional medical help. Some of them try to solve it with non-prescription products or with home remedies promoted on the Web, others – just ignore it and wait until it goes away by itself. And those are the worst decisions one can imagine.
The problem is that, at an early stage, it hardly causes any discomfort except for esthetic issues. So, most patients just don’t realize how serious the situation is. But one must know that such an infection can easily spread over your body and lead to severe and even life-endangering complications.
How Does Nail Fungus Look Like?
Let us make sure we talk the same language and describe the key symptoms of this condition so that you can determine it from the very first glance:
- white or yellow spots under or on a nail;
- discoloring of a nail;
- changes in its shape;
- darkening of a nail;
- a foul smell;
- getting brittle;
- getting rough.
What Can Happen If One Leaves Nail Fungus Untreated?
One must note right away that most problems are related to untreated toenail fungus. Why? The main reason is that people don’t usually ignore problems with their fingernails because such things spar their image. There is a small chance to hide the problem with gloves or nail polish for some time, but that can be only a short-term solution. Thus, in such situations, most of us schedule a visit to a doctor without a delay. Besides, unlike toenails, fingernails are kept clean, tidy, and dry for the bigger part of the day. Keep in mind that your shoes are a warm and moist environment, which is perfect for the growth and development of fungi, bacteria, and other potentially harmful microorganisms.
So, what are the complications associated with nail fungus?
- In the first place that refers to toenails. People with this problem often suffer from hard discomfort or pains when wearing shoes, i.e. most of the time.
- Infecting the surrounding skin. As the infection spreads around, that can result in the redness or itching of the skin on the feet and even cause fissures (this disease is often called athlete’s foot).
- A loss of a nail. That looks bad. And that leaves a nail bed without a cover and protection. Besides, if there is even the slightest wound, the risk of additional infections increases.
- Genital infections. They manifest themselves as the redness, itching, and burning of the skin and mucous coats.
- An overall infection. When fungi spread from nails over the body, they can cause fissures in the skin, which serve as the gate through which bacteria can get to the lower layers of the skin. That often results in severe infection, which can enter the bloodstream as well. This threat is especially acute for people with a weakened immune system.
What to Do?
The only correct answer is to turn to a doctor. On the Web or on TV, you can see lots of ads about diversified over-the-counter solutions. But, in practice, 99% of them are too weak to overcome this problem. So, do not waste time, money, and effort and see a medical specialist without a delay. Remember that the earlier you come, the shorter and cheaper the treatment course will be.
What to Expect from a Consultation?
At first, a doctor will ask some questions about the symptoms bothering you and will have a close look at the infected nail. Also, you should be ready that your doctor may make extra tests ― he can take a scrape or even a small part of a nail. That may be needed for determining an infection.
Speaking about the treatment, there are several options available:
- Systemic medications. They are a must for almost each treatment course. An organism just cannot cope without them. As for side effects, you will avoid most of them if you strictly follow your doctor’s prescription. Which medication to choose? The two most popular variants are Lamisil (fda.gov/media/100436/download) and Diflucan. We recommend you ask your doctor about Diflucan. Why? Although these drugs belong to different classes, their effects are rather similar – they weaken and destroy the walls of fungal cells. As a result, these harmful microorganisms stop developing and die. But Diflucan stands out due to its much cheaper price, which is the main choice factor for most patients. In addition, it is available in a wide range of dosage forms, so it is easier to pick up an optimal dose. Be sure to learn more about this medication biosantepharma.com/drug/generic-diflucan.
- Local topical preparations. You have probably heard of Naftil (accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/019356s008,019599s014,204286s003lbl.pdf), Ciclodan, or other similar cream and lotions? They enjoy great demand among customers as they are easy to apply and cause no (or minimum) side effects. Unfortunately, in most cases, they are not potent enough to fight the infection on their own. They are routinely used in stacks with oral pills.
- Laser therapy. High doses of light can eliminate the fungus even in complicated cases. But one must mention that this procedure is rather costly and is rarely covered by insurance. Also, to some patients, it can turn out to be too painful.
- If nothing else helps, you may need to go through the surgery. It will allow a new healthy nail to grow and replace an infected one. Besides, your doctor may recommend you remove a sick nail with the help of chemical substances. No need to worry ― such procedures are safe and take minimum time. You will not have to stay at a hospital or anything like that. But you should be ready that it may take from several months to a year for a new nail to fully grow out.
To sum up, if you notice or suspect fungus signs on your toe- or fingernails, do not postpone your visit to a doctor. There is no sense to wait and hope that it will go away on itself ― believe us it won’t! So, do not waste time and get rid of the problem at an early stage.