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Onychomycosis is a dermatological infection that occurs in the nail tissue in lower and upper limbs. Its symptoms usually imply itchiness and changes in the infected zone’s color. The following paper will describe and cover various aspects of onychomycosis, its treatment process, symptoms, and the damage that it causes to human nails.
Typical Features of Onychomycosis
There are several different types of onychomycosis (distal lateral subungual, white superficial, endonyx, proximal subungual, and candinal). Every class has its distinctive features. Common signs and symptoms of the condition described above lead to the change of an infected patient’s nails’ color (Veasey, Nappi, Zaitz, & Muramatu, 2017). They might become yellow, green, black, and white. Moreover, onychomycosis has an adverse impact on the nails’ strength. Therefore, they might become easy to break and crack. In some instances, people’s nails fall off. Usually, the infection affects the entire nail, which might be hidden under the skin as well (Veasey et al., 2017).
Another symptom is unbearable itchiness. A person always has a desire to scratch his or her skin under nails. Such circumstances make people suffer from the inevitable pain that is usually caused by onychomycosis. Usually, a significant foot smell occurs due to this infection. Unfortunately, various inferiority complexes might emerge in people’s minds due to their problems with nails (Veasey et al., 2017). The body part’s ugly and unhealthy appearance often makes individuals feel awkward in public.
How Onychomycosis is Typically Diagnosed
As it is mentioned above, several types of onychomycosis can be diagnosed differently. However, it is essential to confirm the presence of tumors on a patient’s nails with the help of specific medical laboratory tests (Arvanitis, Anagnostou, Fuchs, Caliendo, & Mylonakis, 2014). In fact, psoriasis, dermatitis, and lichen planus have similar features and symptoms. They can cause a doctor’s mistake, or a total misdiagnose. Another essential diagnosing method is an investigation of a patient’s nail and different bacteria that it contains (Arvanitis et al., 2014). After that, the consecutive medical examination (with the help of specific optical devices) is used to make the conclusion in a particular case and to determine whether an individual has onychomycosis or some other infection.
As it is stated above, some types of fungus can be diagnosed only after a medical examination. For instance, distal subungual onychomycosis is the most popular manifestation that implies the infection of both the nail plate and nail bed (Arvanitis et al., 2014). In turn, proximal subungual onychomycosis infects a patient’s nail after its penetration into a person’s eponychium. The candidal type is widespread among people who deal with water or some other liquid substances daily.
The Clinical Course and Prognosis
The clinical course of onychomycosis starts when a patient suddenly feels that his or her nails scratch. People do not pay much attention to the symptoms mentioned above because they do not expect the issue to be serious. In several weeks, a person’s nails might slowly start to change their natural color (white, light-green, and yellow). This sign emphasizes on the fact that the infection is not addressed betimes (Gupta et al., 2016). If a particular medical case is disregarded for an extended period, an individual might have severe pains and itchiness on his or her skin under nails.
It is essential to mention that some types of onychomycosis cannot be cured by systematic therapy (Kushwaha et al., 2015). Moreover, fungal infections that emerge in people’s fingers present more danger to the patients’ friends, families, and colleagues than the same issue in toenails. If the problem of fungus is not addressed by a patient or one’s relatives, other infections might occur in their bodies. Bacteria from one’s toenails might damage the cells of the person’s skin adjacent to them (Kushwaha et al., 2015). Individuals with weak immune systems should avoid being infected because fungus can influence their inner organs and general health conditions.
To begin discussing the treatment options of onychomycosis, it is necessary to stress that every second nail fungus case does not imply an infection at its early stage. Usually, a nail just changes its color and form (Elewski et al., 2011). However, possible contamination cannot be disregarded under any circumstances. Otherwise, the treatment process might last for years if onychomycosis penetrates into the skin under the nail.
Some treatment options cannot be used due to their by-effects and adverse impacts on other aspects of people’s health. The best medicaments that professional doctors recommend applying to their patients’ infected nails should include the following ingredients: efinaconazole, ciclopirox nail paint, and amorolfine (Elewski et al., 2011). As the fungus is a permanent infection, appropriate medications are necessary to use on a daily basis for an extended period (one year or longer). Oral medicines are not as useful as substances applied locally. However, the most effective element for oral implementation is terbinafine. The following list will outline available evidence-based treatment options:
- Applying ointments against fungus locally.
- Taking pills or specific syrups that contain terbinafine.
It is essential to remember that onychomycosis is a specific type of infection that might rapidly diffuse among people who use one bathroom, living under one roof, and have close physical contacts. As it is mentioned above, sometimes fungus presents a tremendous problem to a patient as its treatment process might last from three months to three years. However, if one member of a family discovers the symptoms described above on his or her feet, it would be proper to save other relatives by wearing solid and rubber shoes with thick socks (Elewski et al., 2011).
Moreover, to prevent other people from receiving the permanent infection, it is necessary to avoid walking around a dwelling with unprotected and bare feet. In turn, if the fungus treatment process is followed with accuracy on a daily basis, its prophylaxis cannot be neglected in the future (Elewski et al., 2011). Many patients manage to heal fungus and forget to use appropriate medicaments when their nails look healthy and do not have a significant smell. This mistake often leads to onychomycosis reappearance.
The Role of Health Professionals
Although onychomycosis occurs in people’s nails, it is considered to be a skin disease. Therefore, dermatologists should develop various treatment theories and processes to cure fungus. A professional dermatologist should make a full medical examination of an infected nail(s). Basing on the evidence and other information gathered previously, a doctor has to evaluate the investigation results and consider an appropriate diagnosis (Veasey et al., 2017).
Moreover, a dermatologist should conduct a proper treatment and recommend beneficial medicaments that he or she is intended to apply to a patient’s nails on a daily basis. There are other doctors who might contribute to the fungus treatment, such as a podiatrist. These medical workers specialize in different diseases implicitly or directly related to human feet (Veasey et al., 2017). Moreover, podiatrists have to manage the entire treatment process and control the medications that patients with onychomycosis use. Furthermore, the professional medical worker mentioned above must consult people who have fungus and develop a beneficial nail recovery process (Veasey et al., 2017).
Individuals with the infection described previously also might have some problems with walking as their nails hurt. Therefore, podiatrist’s help might be useful to reduce people’s sufferings caused by fungus and its consequences. Also, a professional doctor is obliged to recommend various onychomycosis prevention methods to one’s patients.
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Onychomycosis is a permanent infection that requires a long treatment period and cannot be eliminated easily. Typical fungus features include a weak structure of a nail, a significant smell, and the change of its color (yellow, green, white, black, and so on.) To make an accurate diagnosis of the infection, a medical worker must make an examination and several analyses to differ it from similar diseases (psoriasis, dermatitis, and others).
Moreover, it is necessary to confirm the presence of tumors in a patient’s nails. If the issue is disregarded for an extended period, severe pains in nails and other serious infections might emerge in the future. The treatment process can be oral and local as well. However, medication use has to be regular, and prophylaxis methods must be considered to prevent the disease’s recovery. Although dermatologists specialize in the treatment of such infections, the podiatrist’s intervention is also beneficial for patients who face unfortunate fungus outcomes.
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