Onychomycosis, commonly known as a fungal infection of the nail, is more common than we think. This is because of poor recognition and understanding of the several types of fungal infections of the nail. The most common two seen in clinic are distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO) and white superficial onychomycosis (WSO).
DSO makes up the majority of fungal infections of the toe, caused by the same fungi that cause Athlete’s Foot. Symptoms of a DSO infection include:
- A white or yellow nail
- Skin or nail debris build up underneath the nail
- Crumbling or splitting of the nail
- Nail separation from the skin
Overtime, debris will build up underneath the nail and can cause discomfort when walking or wearing shoes. DSO can be a long-lasting condition that is hard to treat therefore prevention is ideal. To prevent infection wash feet daily, dry thoroughly, and wear clean socks and shoes. Avoid areas where fungi grow like public showers and swimming pools and nail parlors with poor hygiene practices.
WSO, on the other hand, is easily treated. WSO fungi affect the upper layer of the nail with the following symptoms:
- White spots on the surface
- Crumbly, chalky powder on nail surface
- No nail thickness
- Does not separate nail from the skin
Your Podiatrist can diagnose the problem and outline an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment may involve over the counter products and manual clearing.
In stubborn cases oral anti-fungal medication may be required to eradicate the infection. It may take months or longer to eliminate infection. Steps to prevent nail fungus may be easier than trying to fight the infection once you have it.