February 26, 2017
Table of Contents
- Introduction to fungal nails (onychomycosis, tinea unguium)
- What other conditions can be mistaken for fungal nails?
- What causes fungal nails, and what are some of the risk factors?
- Are fungal nails contagious?
- What are fungal nail symptoms and signs?
- What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose fungal nails?
- Who should be treated for fungal nails?
- What specialists treat nail fungus?
- What is the treatment for fungal nails?
- What is the treatment for fungal nails? (Continued)
- Are there home remedies for toenail fungus?
- Are there over-the-counter treatments for toenail fungus?
- Are oral medications for nail fungus toxic?
- What about the cost of oral medications for fungal nails?
- Is it possible to prevent fungal nails?
- What is the prognosis of fungal nails?
- Is it possible to prevent the recurrence of nail fungus?
- Tips for prevention of fungal nails
What other conditions can be mistaken for fungal nails?
Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:
- Lines and ridges: These are common and may be considered normal. They may worsen during pregnancy. A large groove down the center of the nail can be caused by nail biting. Some people may develop these changes following chemotherapy.
- Senile nails: As you age, the nails become brittle and develop ridges and separation of the nail layers at the end of the nail. To avoid this, try to clean solutions and don't soak the nails in water.
- Whitish or yellowish nails can occur due to onycholysis. This means separation of the nail from the nail bed. The color you see is air beneath the nail. The treatment is to trim the nail short, don't clean under it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. Persistent onycholysis can make the nails susceptible to fungal infection.
- Red or black nails due to a hematoma, or blood under the nail, usually occur from trauma (like whacking yourself on the thumb with a hammer). The discolored area will grow out with the nail and be trimmed off as you trim your nails. If you have a black spot under your nail that was not caused by trauma, you may want to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist if it involves a toenail to make sure it is not melanoma (a type of skin cancer associated with pigmented cells). A simple biopsy can rule out malignancy (cancer).
- Green nails can be caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, which grow under a nail that has partially separated from the nail bed. This infection may cause a foul odor of the nails. The treatment is to trim the nail short every four weeks, don't clean it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. It is also advised to avoid soaking the nail in any sort of water (even if inside gloves) and to thoroughly dry the nail after bathing. If the problem continues, there are prescription treatments that your doctor may try.
- Pitted nails may be associated with psoriasis or other skin problems that affect the nail matrix, the area under the skin just behind the nail. This is the area from which the nail grows. Nails affected by psoriasis can also be tan in color.
- Swelling and redness of the skin around the nail is called paronychia. This is an infection of the skin at the bottom of the nail (cuticle). If the infection is acute (has a rapid onset), it is usually caused by bacteria. It may respond to warm soaks but will often need to be drained by a doctor. A chronic paronychia occurs when a cuticle becomes inflamed or irritated over time. Sometimes, yeast will take advantage of the damaged skin and infect the area as well. Therapy begins with keeping the skin dry and out of water. If the problem continues, a physician should be consulted. Antibiotics are not often used but may be necessary in severe infection.
- Chronic nail trauma, such as repeatedly starting and stopping, kicking, and other athletic endeavors, can cause damage to the nails that can look a lot like fungal nails. This sort of repetitive trauma can also occur with certain types of employment or wearing tight-fitting shoes. Some traumas may cause permanent changes that may mimic the appearance of fungal nails.
2/10Reviewed on 2/13/2017