Signs & Symptoms:
Nail infection can cause permanent deformity of the nail that can interfere with being able to wear shoes, walking, and with sports or other activities. Infected nails often have one or more of the following signs that may be unsightly:
- Yellow streaks in the skin under the nail (the nail bed) and on the underside of the nail.
- Buildup of bits and pieces of skin and nail fragments under the skin
- Discolored and thickened nail that may separate from the skin and under the nail
- Brittle, broke, and thickened nail
- White spots or streaks on nail surface
- Soft and powdery nail surface (as the infection worsens)
- Damaged, crumbly and brown or gray surface (with no separation of the nail from the underlying skin)
Causes of a Nail Infection:
Nail infections are usually caused by a fungi (including yeasts and molds). Most fungal infections are cause by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, which means “skin plants” in Greek. The most common fungi that cause nail infection disease in animals and humans are Trichophyton mentagrophyte and Candida albicans. These fungi can live in the layer of dead skin around your nails, in the space under your nail, and in the nail itself.
How does a nail infection occur?
A nail infection is a complex problem. It can start due to a family history of susceptibility, increasing age, poor health, nail trauma, climate (warm and moist), exposure to infected nails (gym/communal bathing areas), and tight shoes. The treatment of nail infection is difficult because the infection is under and inside the nail. This makes it hard for any treatment to reach and destroy the infection. In addition, even after successful treatment, many patients will experience reoccurrence of infection of their nails.
Options for infected nails include:
- Oral drugs (taken by mouth and swallowed)
- Topical drugs (applied to the surface of nail and skin)
- Laser procedure