Nail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis, is a chronic fungal infection of the fingernails and/or toenails by dermatophytes, yeasts and molds leading to gradual destruction of the nail plate. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is more likely to affect toenails, particularly the first toenail, than fingernails. A large questionnaire survey of 10,000 people suggests that it is present in 2.71 percent of the population, while more recent surveys suggested that 7 to 10 percent of the population is affected.
An infected nail will often have unsightly white/yellow or orange/brown patches or streaks. It can also turn thicker, crumbly, ragged or dull. In some cases the nail will emit a slightly foul odor and it may separate from the nail bed in a process known as onycholysis.
Diagnosis and Tests
Although 50 percent of all nail disorders can be categorized as onychomycosis, it is not always possible to identify the disease accurately by just looking at the symptoms. Other conditions, such as psoriasis, can result in similar nail abnormalities. Once the above symptoms are observed, lab tests can be done to visualize fungal elements and a mycological culture to help identify the species of microbes involved will provide a more definitive diagnosis. Since onychomycosis is primarily a disease of the nail bed rather than of the nail plate, skin debris and samples taken from the spot closest to the infection is likely to yield the best results.
Traditionally, toe nail fungus has been treated with topical or oral antifungals. These medications are very patient specific and can cause serious side effects. Currently, we can prescribe Jublia as a topical treatment, but at SKIN 101 we also have the option of treating your nail fungus with a laser.
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