Onychomycosis or toenail fungus is the most common known nail disorder. It is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes which are parasites that feeds on keratin, protein of which nails are made of. Dermatophytes are anaerobic organisms meaning they can survive without oxygen. This is the same type of fungus that cause other infections such as ring worm and jock itch.
Onychomycosis is characterized by discoloration and thickening of the nails as a result of overproduction of keratin meant to replace the ones eaten by the parasites. Onychomycosis infection starts on the nail bed then spreads and grows to cover the whole nail. Basically, there are five basic types of toenail fungus, they are:
White Superficial Onychomycosis or White Superficial Onychomycosis – This type of toenail fungus is called as such because it is characterizes by white and powdery specs on the surface of the nails. Apart from the discoloration, the afflicted nails also become flaky and brittle. This type of toenail infection is the most curable of all types of toenail fungus.
Distal Subungual Onychomycosis – This type of nail fungus is characterized by an infection occurs in between the tip of the nail and the skin and along the side of the nail. People with this type of toenail fungus has nails that is color yellow.
Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis – This is the rarest type of toenail fungus. It is characterized by white or yellow spots on the the cuticle then spreads throughout the other parts of the nail. This type of toenail fungus is also highly curable.
People have this impression that onychomycosis is merely a cosmetic problem. The truth is people suffering from toenail fungus experiences severe pain as a result of the toenails growing inward. The disease affects patients not only physically but also socially because the discomfort brought about by the disease makes it difficult to perform even simple everyday tasks such as walking and running. Not to mention of course that onychomycosis sufferers are usually embarrassed of their disease and are often afraid that they might spread it to other people.
When it comes to gender, males are more prone to acquiring onychomycosis than females. People who are aged 60 and above are more also more susceptible to getting toenail fungus than much younger individuals. But this is probably because they generally have a weaker immune system. Certain disease also makes one and easy prey for dermatophytes. These include diabetes, psoriasis and leukemia.
If you are suspect that you have onychomycosis, whether it is white onychomycosis or other types, the first thing that you should do is go to doctor to properly diagnose your condition.