Beliefnet
A Prescription for Healthy Living

Contrary to popular belief, growing strong healthy finger and toe nails are not only a concern for women, but also for most men. Although they may never let on about the extent to which they keep their talons groomed, most men will take as good care of their nails as women, and a select few will even go so far as to schedule regular mani/pedi appointments. There is no shame to that. Men as well as women know that developing a nail infection, even if it affects one finger or toe nail, can ruin the otherwise healthy appearance of the remaining nine digits.

Onychoycosis is the technical term for a fungal infection of the finger or toe nail. While both sets of nails are equally susceptible to developing infection, it seems that toenails are more often targeted.

Symptoms of Onychoycosis

There are quite a few symptoms associated with onychoycosis. However, to receive a conclusive diagnosis, see your primary healthcare physician or ask for a referral to a podiatrist. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

– Discoloration of the finger or toenail
– Superficial brittleness of the infected nail(s)
– Nail material that crumbles, or has rough, jagged edges
– Abnormal thickness of the infected nail
– Nail that becomes seperated from the nail bed
– Distortion of the nail’s shape

Any of the above symptoms may or may not be accompanied by pain.

Causes of Onychoycosis

Not only can infections of the finger and toenail find their etiology in fungus, but also may have their genesis in certain types of yeast and mold.

Fungus infections thrive in warm, dark, moist places which is why this type of infection typically affects the toenails.

Other risk factors associated with nail fungus include, but are not limited to, the following:

Age plays a major role in developing nail infections due to the dramatic decrease in blood circulation. Additionally, finger and toenails tend to thicken as a person ages, or because the fungi has been left untreated for so long.

For reasons unknown, onychoycosis tends to strike more men than it does women.

Your nail infection may also be due to the following risk factors:

– Heavy perspiration (lending to the promotion of a moist and warm location)
– Working or living in an especially humid area part if the country
– Psoriasis
– Wearing heavy socks and shoes in questionable tempreatures
– Walking barefoot in and around public pools, hot tubs, showers and saunas
– Athlete’s foot
– Diabetes

Treatment of Onychoycosis

– Certain over-the-counter topical medications such as terbinfine may be effective in treating milder forms of infection.
– Purchase a second set of nail clippers especially for grooming the infected finger or toe without spreading the infection. If you have your nails done in a salon, buy your own grooming products and leave them there.
– Wear only 100% cotton socks. Keep dry socks on hand in the event your feet become wet during the day.
– Keep away from dampness and warmth of the feet by applying over-the-counter anti-fungal powder.
– Avoid public places that are warm and moist unless,of course, you are wearing your own shower shoes.
– Purchase shoes that provide good support and a wide area to house the toe.

Paying meticulous attention to these prevention tips will go a long way in terms of keeping fingers and toenails free from infection. Prescription and over-the counter medications have come a long way in recent years, and have become more trustworthy in terms of their effectiveness and the duration of time in which they must be used.

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