Fungal Nail Infection (Onychomycosis)
Fungal Nail Infection (Onychomycosis) Overview
Fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails is caused by a fungal microbe that invades the nail bed. Fungal nail infection is also termed onychomycosis and tinea unguium. Fungal nail infection causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. At first, onychomycosis appears to be only a cosmetic concern. Without treatment, however, the toenails can become so thick that they press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain. Fingernail infection may cause psychological, social, or employment-related problems.
Half of all nail disorders are caused by onychomycosis, and it is the most common nail disease in adults. Toenails are much more likely to be infected than fingernails. The incidence of onychomycosis has been increasing and is associated with diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and increasing age. Adults, especially the elderly, are more likely to have onychomycosis than children.
Fungal nail infection is divided into subtypes. The main subtypes of onychomycosis are as follows:
People with fungal nail infection may have a combination of these subtypes. Total dystrophic onychomycosis is the term used to refer to the most advanced form of any subtype.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015
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