Nail fungus can be described as fungal infection in a toenail, finger nail or nail bed (skin under nail). The nails are attacked by fungi through minute cuts within the skin in and around the nail or even through opening between nail bed and nail. The fungus can slowly spread deep into the nail which may lead to thickening, discolouration as well as development of crumbling edges of the nail. It is not that easy to treat nail fungus infections and the problem may recur even after some period of relief through treatments.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Nail Fungus?
A nail fungus infection usually remains painless in the beginning and does not create further complications if, proper treatment and care is taken. However, if the condition is left untreated then the following symptoms start to show up gradually:
- A change in colour of the nail with the shine gradually diminishing. The nail tends to look dull with the appearance of yellow streaks on the nail’s underside as well as within nail bed.
- The nail’s shape may start changing leading to a damaged and cracked look even when it has been cut properly.
- White streaks or spots on nail surface.
- Bad odour because of fungus inside the nail.
- The infected nail may start to separate from nail bed leading to severe pain and discomfort.
- Powdery and soft nail surface when the infection reaches a severe stage.
What Causes Nail Fungus?
- Dark, Warm and Moist Environments
Fungal infections generally occur in the areas which are dark, warm and moist. Toenails are frequently attacked by fungal infections as toes remain inside shoes under a dark and warm environment. Fungal infections thrive when nails remain in such environments for long time periods.
- Increased Exposure to Water
Any type of job that requires hands or feet to be exposed to water for long periods of time, increases chances of nail fungus infection. When the nails and skin is wet and warm, fungi that lurks in cuts within the skin, tend to spread and grow inside the fingernails at a rapid pace.
- Fungi Causing Infections
There are basically 3 varieties of fungi which can cause fungal infections. These are molds, yeast (also known by the name Candida) and dermatophytes. The fingernails are mostly affected by yeast infections while fungal infections in the toenail are mainly caused by dermatophytes.
- Low Immunity Power
Feeling sick or rundown, or suffering from some condition which tends to weaken the immunity system certainly increases possibility of developing fungal infections inside fingernails. This happens mainly because of the fact that, the body loses its power to fight against diseases and infections.
- Family History
It has been observed that nail fungus infections are increasingly common among people with past history of such infections. Therefore, descendants of families where one or more members tend to suffer from nail fungus infections will more likely be susceptible towards these types of infections.
Home Remedies for Nail Fungus
- Orange Oil: Orange Oil proves quite effective against nail fungus infections. Anti-fungal properties are present in orange oil of every type which can help with infected nails. By using a dropper, orange oil should be applied under and on the nails on a daily basis. The oil should be allowed to stay for a minimum of one hour. The oil can also be diluted with equal proportions of some other career oil. Before application, the oil should be tested on skin as this oil causes allergic reactions to some people.
- Tea Tree Oil: The fungicidal and antiseptic properties of this oil help with easy treatment of nail fungus. The oil also proves extremely effective against skin infections of varying types. People with nail fungus infections can put some drops of this oil on cotton ball and apply the oil around the infected area for a minimum of ten minutes. After that, they should gently scrub affected nail with a toothbrush. However, it should be kept in mind that, the oil should be diluted with thyme or olive oil in equal amount. It proves to be a good remedy for infections which haven’t reached a severe stage.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: The mild acidic nature of this component helps to prevent nail fungus infection from spreading. Apart from that, it effectively kills bacteria and fights germs. A solution with equal proportion of apple cider vinegar along with water should be prepared. The affected nails should be dipped in the solution for nearly thirty minutes. After that, the nails should be dried thoroughly to avoid presence of moisture. This remedy needs to be followed for some weeks and the results will start appearing gradually. A scrub can also be prepared using rice flour that is coarsely grounded along with apple cider vinegar. The paste should be applied over affected area which needs to be followed by gentle scrub. This helps with the elimination of skin cells that are dead and leaves the skin soft and smooth.