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Nail fungus (onychomycosis)

Nail fungus or onychomycosis (medical name) is a disease that occurs when the nail plate is affected by a fungal infection. Onychomycosis affects 5 to 15% of people. The risk of its development increases with age, although the fungus is often detected in babies. Every 10 years of life, the incidence increases 2.5 times. If in children it is 3%, then in older people it is already 50-60%.

Causative agents of the disease

Onychomycosis is caused by microorganisms from the Kingdom of Fungi. The world of mushrooms is diverse, and not all of them are as pleasant as the mushrooms, chanterelles or honey mushrooms that we are used to seeing on our table. There are microscopic parasitic species that feed on tissues of plants, animals, humans.

The causative agents of onychomycosis consume the protein keratin, which is part of the nail plate, hair, and the upper (keratinized) layer of the skin. About 50 representatives of parasitic fungi are known to cause disease.

They are divided into three groups:

Dermatophytes. They account for 80% of cases of onychomycosis. They are distinguished by high survival rate and viability. Found naturally in soil;

Yeast-like mushrooms. Among them is Candida albicans known to women (microorganisms of the genus Candida), which causes thrush or vaginal candidiasis. Yeast-like fungi are 5 times more likely to infect fingernails than toenails. Toxic and impair the functioning of the whole organism;

Mold fungi. Onychomycosis caused by molds is rare. But it is the most dangerous, it progresses rapidly, it can completely destroy the nail plate, go to neighboring tissues.

Onychomycosis affects the nails of the hands and feet, but nail fungus is much more common on the feet. This is due to the fact that hands are given much more attention, they are often washed during the day, and treated with antiseptic agents. They are always open and well ventilated except in winter when we wear gloves. And the legs are constantly covered with street shoes, slippers, tights, socks, they sweat more. These factors create ideal conditions for the development of fungus on the feet, because heat and moisture are its best "friends".

The causative agent of onychomycosis enters the nail from different directions. The most common way is from above, from the side of the free edge of the nail plate. It is also possible to insert from the side from the side of the lateral ridges or from below from the side of the cuticle and the growth zone of the nail.

The most dangerous is onychomycosis near the cuticle. In this case, the fungus slows down or stops the division of onychoblasts - cells of the growth zone under the lower nail fold. The nail stops growing in length, the infected areas may not recover. There is a pathological change in the structure, destruction of the nail.

Fungi rarely take root directly into the nail plate. First, their spores enter the skin around the nail or interdigital spaces through microcracks, cuts, abrasions, abrasions, and calluses. Then the growth of the colony begins, the pathogen moves to the nail plate, penetrates into it and begins to parasitize.

Why does onychomycosis appear?

Mushrooms live in warm and humid places, and wherever such conditions exist, it is easy to get infected with them. For example, if you go barefoot in public baths, swimming pools, showers, or gym locker rooms, the chances of getting infected are high.

Nail fungus onychomycosis

Some diseases contribute to the development of onychomycosis:

Diabetes. In patients with diabetes, the fungus is 3 times more common. An excess of glucose in the blood creates favorable conditions for fungi to live. In the absence of sugar control and keeping it within the normal range, blood vessels suffer. The longer the length of the illness, the more the blood supply to the legs is impaired ( diabetic foot syndrome ). Wounds heal worse, infection is easier;

Poor blood circulation in the lower extremities caused by varicose veins, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the lumen, blockage of the arteries), thrombophlebitis (the formation of blood clots in the lumen of the veins);

Weakening of the immune system, immunodeficiency states (HIV), damage to the organs of the immune system. Reduce the body's resistance to any infections;

Psoriasis. 90% of people with psoriasis have changes in the nail plate. Grooves form on it, turbidity is present, depressions appear, detachment of the nail plate. These factors increase the chances of infection by the fungus by 1.5 - 2 times;

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating of the feet, often causes onychomycosis in men;

The presence of a focus of fungal infection in other parts of the body.

The risk group includes the elderly.

The cause of onychomycosis is often associated with the characteristics of the profession and improper foot care:

poor care of feet and nails, lack of daily hygiene procedures due to neglect of personal hygiene rules or difficulties with their implementation (in bedridden patients or patients with limited mobility);

work in wet, damp rooms (hotbeds, greenhouses, vegetable stores), frequent wearing of rubber gloves or rubber shoes;

professional sports;

wearing uncomfortable, tight, narrow shoes or shoes made of artificial materials (leatherette), which creates a "greenhouse effect" that prevents normal air exchange.

Preposing factors for the development of onychomycosis include trauma to the nail or surrounding tissues, taking antibacterial or hormonal drugs.

In women, a common cause of fungus is prolonged wearing of gel polish. It creates a closed space between the nail plate and the coating in which a fungal infection develops successfully. It is not recommended to apply gel polish on toenails; it is better to use a regular decorative varnish. Also, in women, onychomycosis appears after an unsuccessful manicure or pedicure in salons where high-quality disinfection of instruments is not carried out, sterility is not observed.

Signs of onychomycosis

Most often, the fungus infects the big toes.

The following changes in the nail plate indicate a fungal infection:

dullness, yellowing, loss of smoothness and shine;

itching, redness, peeling of the skin around;

delamination, fragility, looseness;

unpleasant odor;

violation of the structure, thickening;

If you find at least one of the listed signs in yourself, you should immediately consult a doctor treating nail fungus. This can be a podiatrist, dermatologist or mycologist.

A mandatory examination by a podiatrist to check for onychomycosis is required after an injury to the nail or the skin around it. If there are factors (varicose veins, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, weakened immunity, increased sweating of the legs, etc.), it is recommended to do a medical pedicure once a month, in which the doctor will carefully examine the nails and skin of the feet, and identify changes in the early stages.

Is nail fungus dangerous?

Onychomycosis is a disease that causes more psychological discomfort than physical ailment. To understand what we are talking about, it is enough to look at a photo of toenail fungus on the Internet. It is characterized by a slow course, does not cause pain, fever and other symptoms that require urgent medical attention.

People are in no rush to treat nail fungus. After all, when the affected area is small, you can paint over it with varnish, put on socks or closed shoes in front of strangers. And the problem of psychological discomfort has been temporarily resolved. But, unfortunately, things are not so simple. If you do not destroy the fungal infection, it will not disappear anywhere, but will affect the nail further. And onychomycosis is also contagious. An infected person poses a danger to family members and others.

nail fungus dangerous

How to prevent infection?

The best remedy for nail fungus is prevention.

To protect yourself from infection, you must:

use medical disinfectants labeled GOST (capable of killing onychomycosis, tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV);

monitor the condition of the feet and nails, the main rule is that the feet must be clean and dry;

take care of shoes, regularly disinfect and dry them, it is convenient to use electric dryers for drying;

treat your feet with drying agents or antiperspirants if the feet sweat a lot;

in the pool, sauna, gym locker rooms, do not go barefoot, but wear rubber slippers with a closed toe;

wear comfortable shoes made of natural breathable materials;

do not use a towel, shoes or manicure accessories of strangers.

These tips will help you prevent onychomycosis and keep your nails healthy and well-groomed. They are effective not only for the prevention of fungus, but also for other problems: an ingrown nail , calluses, corns.

Features of the treatment of onychomycosis

Advertising on TV promises to easily and quickly cure nail fungus with antifungal (fungicidal) creams, solutions, varnishes. We are promised that "The drugs Lamezil, Exaderyl, Mikazan, Mekoderil and others penetrate deeply into the structure of the nail, effectively destroy the fungus, and return the old appearance to the nails in 2 - 3 applications." But why, then, such an independent treatment of toenail fungus gives good results in a maximum of 10% of cases? Because these remedies themselves are effective only in the early stages of the fungus, when the symptoms are not yet obvious and almost invisible.

Manufacturers are often cunning that the drugs are manufactured in Europe and have good active ingredients in their composition. In practice, the most effective against nail fungus (onychomycosis) is Clotrimazole (Climbazole). Most of the drugs are simply very well advertised and cost 2000-5000r, but do not contain Clotrimazole (Climbazole). You cannot buy specialized drugs in ordinary pharmacies, for 100-1000r, even if it says Clotrimazole (Climbazole) in its chemical composition, it will be absent since production is very expensive.

This drug is used in podiatry centers and on a properly prepared nail. We do not have the right to write the name of the drug, but you can ask us any question here.

Antifungal drugs are the mainstay of the treatment of onychomycosis. Without them, as much as we would like, it will not be possible to defeat the infection. But they must be applied correctly and deliberately. The medicine for nail fungus should be applied to the pre-treated and prepared nail so that it has the desired therapeutic effect.

The first thing you should do if you suspect onychomycosis is to see a doctor who will confirm or deny the diagnosis. If necessary, he will prescribe additional examination and treatment. Choosing a remedy for nail fungus based on reviews from the Internet, advice from friends or TV ads will result in wasted time and money on unnecessary medications. The same results will be obtained when trying to treat onychomycosis using folk methods. Vinegar, garlic, onions, medicinal herbs are not able to destroy the pathogen.

An important point in the treatment of onychomycosis is the disinfection of shoes and clothes that have come into contact with the infected area. If you do not fulfill it, then you can get infected again from your own things. Clothes should be washed at high temperatures (above 60 C), ironed, shoes should be treated with special disinfectants.

What drugs and methods are effective?

In the initial stages, the treatment of onychomycosis is easier and faster than in advanced cases. How to treat nail fungus?

To combat the pathogen, apply:

Hardware medical pedicure. It allows you to cleanse the nail areas affected by onychomycosis without blood and pain, prepare them for the use of antifungal agents;

Keratolytics. These are topical preparations against nail fungus that are applied to the affected nail for painless removal. They loosen, soften and dissolve the nail plate, and then it can be easily removed with pedicure tools. Keratolytics facilitate the treatment of onychomycosis, remove the infected area, stimulate the growth of a new healthy nail plate;

Fungicidal agents. The action of these drugs is aimed at destroying the fungus. With onychomycosis, they are used topically in the form of varnishes, solutions, ointments, creams and inside in the form of tablets. When taken internally, the active ingredients of tablets from nail fungus accumulate in the skin and nail plate. They suppress the activity of fungal enzymes, disrupt the permeability of cell membranes, and cause the death of the pathogen. The most effective are in the composition of Clotrimazole (Climbazole).

Methods for the treatment of onychomycosis are selected based on the severity of the symptoms and the area of the affected area. In the initial stages of the disease, hardware treatment and external fungicidal agents are sufficient. In severe forms of damage, when the entire nail is infected with a fungus, you will need to take pills, remove the nail plate. Treatment of an advanced form of onychomycosis takes from 3 months to 1 year and depends on the growth rate of the nail.

Topical fungicidal preparations are safe for health, but not always effective. The tablets have a negative effect on the liver, therefore, during their intake, laboratory monitoring of the state of the organ is necessary.

Onychomycosis is curable, and this is the main thing!

The sooner you see your doctor, the faster you will cope with it.

Do not be afraid and shy. This problem is very common and affects millions of people around the world.

When treating nail fungus in Moscow in our podiatry center, you will receive:

joint supervision of a podologist and a mycologist (a doctor who deals with fungal diseases); 100% sterility in all procedures;

the possibility of taking material (scraping the skin and nail plate) to identify the type of fungus;

quick result (on average, 3-4 procedures are required);

• free disinfection of a pair of shoes in which you came, the possibility of disinfection of all shoes in which you walked during the period of onychomycosis;

recommendations for foot and shoe care to help prevent re-infection.

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