Fingernail Fungus causes and Treatments

Fingernail fungus is a fungal disease of the human fingernails. However, it can also be seen in the wider category of nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis. Indeed the other type of nail fungus, toenail fungus, is the more common of the two varieties. The disease is caused by several fungal pathogens and it can result in significant damage to the fingernail. There are several treatments that are available for fingernail fungus. These include anti-fungal medication and nail paints, for example. Although there are numerous alternative remedies that have been suggested as well.

Fingernail fungus is caused by a variety of species of dermatophytes, Candida, and moulds. The dermatophytes are the most common in Western countries with the species Trichophyton rubrum being a particularly common cause of onychomycosis. Symptoms of the disease can include a yellowing or cloudiness of the nail plates. Other possibilities include roughening, crumbling, and thickening. The nail can also begin to separate from the nail bed as well. Lesions known as dermatotyphids, which are an allergic reaction to the fungus, could also appear.

There are four types of fingernail fungus. Distal subungual onychomycosis is caused by Trichophyton rubrum and affects the nail bed and adjacent side of the nail plate. White superficial onychomycosis affects the superficial nail plate layers producing characteristic white markings in it. Proximal subungual onychomycosis is where the fungus makes it to the proximal nail fold via the nail plate. Finally, candidal onychomycosis is where Candida species make it into the person’s fingernails, usually when they have lesions and usually as a result of them having their hands in water often.

One treatment that is available for fingernail fungus is that of systemic anti-fungal medication. This could involve the use of terbinafine or itraconazole, for example. There are also topical alternatives as well. This could involve the use of nail paints that include ciclopirox or amorolfine, for example. A mixture of the systemic and topical approaches may work best although in the case of the superficial type of the infection a system approach is preferred.

There are many studies that are ongoing to discover which are the best treatments for fingernail fungus. There are also new drugs being developed as well, including new anti-fungal medications and nail paints. For those willing to try more alternative approaches there are also a number of supposed treatments with no scientific backing. These include the use of tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract, for example.