Nail Infection Symptoms & Diagnosis
Fungal nail infections are typically caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungus. The infection can begin as athlete’s foot, but this isn’t always the case. If the infection starts in the nails, often times this fungus will spread to the skin and cause athlete’s foot. Dermatophytes can live on and in the nails, the skin, and the hair and spreads easily. It is important to begin treating a nail infection as soon as possible to avoid spreading, which means you’ll need to be able to recognize the symptoms effectively.
Fungal nail infections usually affect toenails, but can affect fingernails as well. Gardeners are more susceptible to mold nail infections on their fingernails since this mold grows in soil. Both in the fingernails and toenails, these infections will start in at the base of the nail and then will spread to the nail itself. There are two common types of nail infections: distal subungual onychomycosis and white superficial onychomycosis. The difference between the two is in the parts of the nail it affects.
Distal subungual onychomycosis (left) is the more common of the two. This type of infection affects the nail bed, which is the skin underneath the nail, and the surface of the nail. Once the fungus has taken hold, you will begin to see yellow spots or streaks which over time will turn the whole nail yellow. Once the nail has turned yellow, the fungus will cause the nail to thicken. The nail will also become brittle and in some cases will split or pull away from the nail bed. This is a very painful process and can even cause wearing shoes to be painful.
White superficial onychomycosis (right) only affects the base of the nail and the surface of the nail. The first symptom that appears is white spots or streaks on the nail surface. As the infection progresses, the surface of the nail will turn completely white and become quite malleable and powdery. Without treatment, the infection will continue and cause the nail to crumble and may even turn brown or gray. However, this type of infection will not cause the nail to pull away from the nail bed since it will only grow on the surface of the nail (hence, ‘superficial’).
To diagnose a nail infection, your doctor will first ask about your medical history to find out if you have previously had any nail infections. Once you get a fungal nail infection, the can easily recur. Then your doctor will look at both your finger and toe nails to look at the symptoms, as well as check for ringworm and athlete’s foot since these are caused by the same fungus. Most doctors will make a diagnosis just based on just these factors. Since most nail infections are caused by dermatophytes, he will in all likelihood prescribe a treatment for that type of fungus. If this treatment does not work, you may need to go back to your doctor and get a nail biopsy done.
Naturasil nail infection products work for all types of nail infections, so it is not always necessary to figure out exactly which type of fungus is causing the infection. If you have a nail infection, start your treatment now to avoid the painful and embarrassing growth of the fungus.