Fungal nails commonly present as discoloured and thickened and are the most common infection of nails accounting for app. 50% of all nail abnormalities. It is also known by its medical terms onychomycosis and tinea unguium and it is estimated that between 2-3% of the population suffers from this condition.
The infection can occur through cracks in your nail or skin and the perfect breeding ground is the moist damp environment created from wearing socks and closed-in shoes. If left untreated the infection can spread to other fingernails or toenails.
The nails with the infection can commonly appear yellow, brown and/or white and are not usually painful. They can also develop an odd shape, warp the nail and/or cause the nail to flake. If the fungus builds up underneath the nail it can also cause the nail to separate from the nail bed. The nail does not ever re-attach.
Men are more common to get a fungal infection than women, the older you are the greater the chance as well. Other predisposing factors may include diabetes, weak immune system, smoking, an injured/cracked toenail and other family member currently suffering from it. Those who participate in water exercise or activities have an increase risk as well as those who have pedicures and manicures at establishments that do not autoclave (sterilise) their instruments.
Diagnosing fungal nails correctly is important because other conditions such as psoriasis can also cause discolouration and thickening. If there is an uncertain appearance then your GP or Podiatrist is able to take a sample and send it to a pathology lab. The cost for this are usually between $150 – $200 and there is unfortunately no medicare or private health rebate for this service.
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