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Toenail Fungus: Causes, Symptoms and Effective Treatments

7 de June de 2024

Toenail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects millions of people worldwide. This condition not only compromises the appearance of the nails, but can also cause significant pain and discomfort. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, treatments and the most effective prevention measures for toenail fungus.

Global Prevalence

Onychomycosis affects approximately 10-12% of the world’s population, with prevalence increasing with age. It is estimated that between 20% and 25% of people over 60 years of age suffer from this condition. In addition, certain risk factors, such as diabetes, immune disorders and prolonged use of closed shoes, increase susceptibility to this infection.

Causes of Onychomycosis

Dermatophyte infection

Dermatophyte infection

Dermatophyte fungi are the most common cause of onychomycosis. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, such as the inside of shoes and sweaty socks. Trichophyton rubrum is the species most frequently implicated in these infections.

Yeast and Mold

In addition to dermatophytes, yeasts such as Candida and molds can infect nails, especially in people with compromised immune systems or previous nail lesions.

Risk Factors

Aging, diabetes, prolonged use of closed shoes, previous athlete’s foot and a weakened immune system are factors that increase the risk of developing nail fungus. Exposure to humid environments, such as swimming pools and gyms, also contributes to the spread of infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms of onychomycosis can vary, but generally include:

  • Thickening and Discoloration: Affected nails often become thickened and yellow, brown or white in color.
  • Brittleness and Crumbling: Nails may become brittle and crumble at the edges.
  • Foul odor: An unpleasant odor may emanate from the affected nails.
  • Pain and discomfort: In severe cases, the infection can cause pain and make it difficult to wear shoes.

Treatments

Topical Treatments

For mild infections, topical treatments such as antifungal nail polishes (amorolfine, ciclopirox) are effective. These treatments require regular applications over several months to be effective.

Oral Medication

In more severe cases, oral antifungals such as terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole may be prescribed. These drugs are more effective but may have side effects and require medical monitoring.

Combined Therapies

The combination of topical and oral treatments often offers better results, especially in moderate to severe infections.

Innovative Treatments

Laser therapy is an emerging option that uses pulses of light to penetrate the nail and destroy the fungus. This technique is promising and has a favorable safety profile.

Prevention

Keeping Feet Dry and Clean

Wash and dry your feet well every day, paying special attention to the spaces between the toes.

Wearing Proper Footwear

Choose shoes that allow ventilation and avoid synthetic socks that retain moisture. Opt for cotton or wool socks.

Do Not Share Personal Items

Avoid sharing towels, shoes and nail clippers with others to prevent the spread of infection.

Use of Prophylactic Antifungals

Apply antifungal powders or sprays to your feet and inside your shoes if you are prone to infections.

Regular Reviews

Have your feet and nails checked regularly, especially if you have risk factors such as diabetes or a compromised immune system.

Conclusion

Onychomycosis is a common and persistent condition that can significantly affect quality of life. With proper diagnosis and early treatment, it is possible to control and eradicate the infection. At Clinica San Roman, we offer a variety of advanced and personalized treatments to address toenail fungus. If you suspect you have a fungal nail infection, do not hesitate to contact us for a professional evaluation.

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