In part 1 of this article we explained what is Toenail Fungus, or specifically Onychomycosis, its popular misconceptions, and how it infects people. In part 2 we will explain what treatment is available for this very tenacious disease.
Important Information About Onychomycosis
Little understood, Onychomycosis has become the most common of all diseases of the nails.
Onychomycosis is very widespread, but it appears that its incidence is greater in older people about 90% of the elderly may be infected. Statistics show that men are more commonly infected.
Who Is Most At Risk For Infection?
Besides the elderly, anyone with a chronic illness such circulatory problems, diabetes and any illness that suppresses one’s immune system. Where you live (in a hot climate for example) habitual wearing of tight shoes, and previous nail injury also increases the risk of infection.
What Causes Onychomycosis?
Three types of fungi cause Onychomycosis . These are specific fungi that are called dermatophytes (ones that are attracted to skin), yeasts, and nondermatophyte molds (ones are not especially attracted to skin).
Toenails present a great environment for the fungi to grow. Fungi anyway prefer dark and damp places. It may be true or not, that swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers also are places of infection.
How Does One Know They Have Onychomycosis?
Onychomycosis can be diagnosed by standard medical examination practices. However, it’s a fact that Onychomycosis could have infected someone for a long period without revealing symptoms.
Visually the affected nail becomes thicker, and its color changes to a yellowish brown color. There are often very bad smelling deposits coming from under an affected nail. The skin of an infected person, besides the nail, can also become infected.
After a precious diagnosis (after biological examination and testing) the exact species of fungus will be known, and then a treatment prescribed.
Treatment of Onychomycosis
Someone with Onychomycosis must accept that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to cure, let alone treat..
Therapy is long -term and a popular treatment consists of topical lotions that are applied directly to the nails, as well as two systemic drugs, griseofulvin and ketoconazole.
Please note that the use of griseofulvin and ketoconazole has undesirable side-effects, the rate of relapse is very high statistically.
Worse of all, this treatment must be continued for an extended period of up to 18 months. Regular laboratory testing is required for the undesirable side-effects, including liver damage.
The drug companies, recognizing the widespread infection rates have developed newer generations of medications.
These include Sporanox, Lamisil, and Diflucan. These newer medications, although also long-term treatments, give good cure rates with fewer side effects than the standard medications.
All medications require doctor and laboratory monitoring.
It is interesting to note that nails will continue to look damaged even after the fungus is eliminated. One’s nails may not look normal for up to (and after) a year from treatment.
Surgical and Alternative Treatments
There are surgical procedures, including removal of the affected nail (nails) and nail thinning, with removal or the fungal material, but these are considered as very radical treatment.
Control of the growth, instead of its removal is considered also as an effective treatment, letting the body’s own immune system take over.
Diet is also considered very important, with a total restriction against alcohol, sugar and caffeine.
A good diet low in animal proteins but rich is vitamins and minerals are advised. A high potency multi-vitamin is advised, with the addition of non-saturated natural oils (extra virgin olive oil, for example)
A topical ointment of tea tree oil and undiluted grapefruit seed extract appears to be very beneficial
Prevention of Onychomycosis
Keep your feet dry and clean. A daily wash of the feet with normal soap and water is advised.
One should dry their feet thoroughly.
Keeping ones nails short and wearing shoes that breathe are very important in the prevention of Onychomycosis.
One should change their socks and shoes daily as well. Tight socks or hosiery are not advised.