Onychomycosis, more commonly known as tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that can affect fingers or toenails of any age. The highly contagious condition arises from contact with an infected person or object and most often presents in adults over 60. Though the symptoms may seem mild on the surface – such as discoloring and weakening nails – this ailment should not be taken lightly; seeking proper medical attention is paramount for prevention against spreading further contamination throughout one’s environment.
The most common symptom associated with onychomycosis is discoloration of the nails, usually yellowish-white in color but can also appear brown or black. Other signs include the thickening of the nails, crumbling and separation from the nail bed, debris accumulation beneath the nails, and a foul odor emanating from them due to bacterial growth. Painful fissures may form between toes due to excessive pressure caused by thickened nails. In some instances, it may lead to secondary bacterial infections as well.
Diagnosis of onychomycosis requires an expert eye and a combination of laboratory tests to ensure accuracy. Treatment involves topical antifungal therapies, systemic oral drugs, or laser therapy to remove infected nail plate layers as needed. Surgical removal (avulsion) may be required for complete resolution in severe cases. After successful treatment, onychomycosis can quickly return if contact is made with an infected person and good hygiene practices are not maintained.
Therefore, one must take the necessary steps to prevent reinfection. These steps range from regularly washing towels and clothing through which infection may spread to managing underlying causes (such as diabetes mellitus) as understood by your doctor in order to control the risk of recurrent fungus growth in/on nails more effectively.