Nail fungus is an unsightly condition which can be difficult to treat. Many patients become very conscious about a fungus nail condition and refuse to wear sandals and have their feet seen in public. It is caused by microscopic organisms called Dermatophytes.
Dermatophytes grow in the nail bed, beneath the nail and live off keratin, the protein in the nail. The condition usually begins towards the far end of the nail and may start with patches of white or yellow discoloration. If the condition is left untreated, it will proceed to the base of the nail. It will attack the nail root (matrix) and cause the nail to grow very thick and deformed. The big toe is usually the first nail to be affected with the condition spreading to adjacent nails. In rare cases this condition can also affect the skin surrounding the nails.
Symptoms of Nail Fungus
- The nail may become brittle and split in to several pieces.
- The actual condition is not painful. However, if the nail becomes thick and deformed it may grow into the skin at an angle and become an ingrown toe nail.
- In severe cases, inflammation may arise from an ingrown toe nail which may result in a secondary infection.
- It will affect a patient's day to day activities as the pressure from the nails against the shoes causes discomfort.
- If the condition is left untreated for along period of time, the nail will become very brittle and the patient may experience episodes of total removal of the nail followed by re-growth.