Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails. This ailment causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. At first glance, onychomycosis appears to be only a cosmetic concern. However, without treatment, the toenails can become abnormally thick forcing the toe to press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.
Generally, onychomycosis does host any symptoms. Individuals seek treatment for cosmetic reason, not because they are experiencing pain. However, if the disease continues to progress without treatment, onychomycosis may interfere with standing, walking, and exercising.
Onychomycosis is easily identified by its appearance. However, there are similar conditions and infections that can cause the nails to have a similar appearance to onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is sometimes confirmed by laboratory tests, but these are often not necessary before beginning treatment. Treatments for this condition can be long, expensive, and have associated health risks.
Risk factors making one more susceptible to onychomycosis include:
- Repeated or chronic Athlete's Foot infections (which are a fungal infection of the skin).
- Advancing age
- Poor health
- Injuries to a nail
- Excessive perspiration
- Habitually wearing shoes don’t allow proper air circulation.
Treatment options vary by individual and severity of the condition but may include topical creams (applied to the surface of the nail), oral medications (pills), or temporary or permanent removal of the infected nails. Talk with your doctor about what treatments will work best for you.