Nail fungus is an extremely uncomfortable and stubborn disease that can appear on toenails and fingernails. We explain to you how you can prevent nail fungus and which means help with the fungal infection.
What is nail fungus?
If you get a fungal infection, the nails on your fingers and toes can be affected. In this case, it is a nail fungus (medical: onychomycosis). In most cases, thread fungi, the so-called dermatophytes, are responsible for the infection. In rare cases, mold or yeasts can dissolve the fungus.
The nail bed is usually affected - which can lead to the nail peeling off in advanced onychomycosis. Often times, the fungal infection begins with a brownish discoloration of the nail on the sides.
Athlete's foot as a trigger?
Since fungi are particularly comfortable in damp environments, the toenails are more often affected than the fingernails. Nail fungus often develops as a result of an athlete's foot infection, as the same pathogen is responsible for both diseases. The fungus then spreads from the spaces between the toes to the nail of the big toe.
If the toenail fungus is treated immediately, it cannot develop any further. However, if the aggressive fungus is not combated directly, it can spread to all other toenails. If there is no therapy, the nails can be completely destroyed, which is associated with considerable pain.
Symptoms - this is how you recognize nail fungus
The dermatophytes usually first settle on the upper edge of the nail. From there they begin to attack the entire nail. The nail fungus destroys the keratin, which is responsible for the solid substance of the nails. This creates air bubbles and the toenail becomes porous. It also swells and turns white to yellowish.
Yeasts spread from the nail wall, i.e. from where the nail grows out of the foot. The nail plate then becomes brittle and can even lift off the skin. However, you should always consult a doctor for the diagnosis.
Treatment of the fungal disease
In the case of mild nail fungus, you can treat the disease with creams and transparent nail varnishes with the fungus- inhibiting ingredients ciclopirox, amorolfine, or bifonazole, which you can get over the counter in the pharmacy.
Anti-fungal varnishes are water-soluble and waterproof. It is enough to apply it once a day (pharmacists recommend in the evening).
But there are also nail sets that promise success in a few weeks because they can penetrate deeper into the nail bed. They consist of a combination of ointment, plasters, and a spatula to scrape off. And this is how the combined application works:
If the fungal infection is more advanced, you should take the active ingredient in tablet form, as the fungus then also has to be fought from within via the blood. The family doctor will then prescribe a remedy for onychomycosis.Apply a thin layer of the ointment to the affected nail areas.
Then apply one of the plasters and leave it on for 24 hours.
Remove the plaster and carefully scrape off the softened nail areas with the spatula.
Perform daily for two weeks.
The ointment should then be applied daily for four weeks.
A fungal nail infection takes ...
Patience is required in therapy because the fungus is very tough. If a nail is infected, it can take several months for the active substance to completely destroy it.
Medical foot care or a podiatrist, who can professionally treat a fungal nail infection and assess which nail layers of the nail plate are already affected by the fungal disease, also offer good help.
Home remedies - apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil for nail fungus?
General medicine is skeptical of alternative forms of therapy, but some home remedies have proven their worth. If you suffer from a mild fungal infection, you can with a foot bath of apple cider vinegar to try to relieve symptoms. Simply put vinegar and water in the same proportion in a container and bathe your feet in it for ten minutes. Alternatively, you can apply the vinegar to the affected areas with a cotton swab. Since mushrooms do not like an acidic environment, they should be eliminated by the acid.
The substances in tea tree oil should also be able to combat the fungal attack. Simply dab the nail fungus with the oil. It is also possible to mix a few drops with water and also take a foot bath.
Important: If you have a fungal nail infection, you should wash towels, bath mats, and socks frequently and at 60 degrees, because the fungal spores of the filamentous fungi (dermatophytes) can spread quickly and infect others.
Prevention - this is how you can protect yourself against nail diseases
If you want to prevent nail fungus, you should make sure that your feet are not damp. To do this, it is important to dry your feet properly after swimming and showering and not neglecting the spaces between the toes.