Nail fungus is a subcategory of onychomycosis which is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails and accounts for half of all nail abnormalities. Onychomycosis most commonly affects toenails or fingernails, but toenail fungus infections are more common and in particular the big toes.
The toenail fungus infection affects 6-8% of the Canadian adult population. Onychomycosis can have significant negative effects on the patient’s emotional, social, and occupational well-being.
Other factors include tight and non-breathable shoes, increased use of public damp spaces such as locker rooms and gymnasiums and immuno-suppressed patients through diseases.
Symptoms during the nail fungus infection include:
- Change in nail shape
- Crumbling of the outside edges of the nail
- Debris trapped under the nail
- Loosening or lifting up of the nail
- Loss of luster and shine
- Thickening of the nail
- White or yellow streaks on the side of the nail
What is the most effective Treatment
- There are three types of treatments for this condition: topical, oral and laser treatments. Topical medications alone are unable to cure onychomycosis, with approximately 10% success rates, because of insufficient nail plate penetration.
- Oral antifungal drugs such as triazole posaconazole. These medications can have up to 50% success rate after several months of treatment. However, they can stress the liver.
- Laser nail fungus treatments have the highest success rates of approximately 90%. This is due to the fact that fungi are susceptible to heat that disrupts their growth. Since toenails grow at a rate of 1mm per months, the toenails may take 12-18 months to appear normal again. Fingernails grow 2 mm per month thus takes 6 months to be cleared.
- Finally, if none of the treatments work or are feasible for the patient, the toe nail can be surgically removed as a last resort.
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