Nail fungus?

Nail fungus! Be they mirrors to your health, or carefully manicured tips to carefully groomed fingers and toes… nails have played an integral role in gauging illnesses, hygiene levels, and have even inspired fashion dictates since time immemorial. In fact, rosy pink fingertips are credited with having inspired the phrase, ‘in the pink of health’, given that your nails are the first to indicate any signs of a deficiency, or a malady afflicting your body.

And yet, statistics reveal that an alarming 10% of all North Americans are no longer proud owners of twenty radiantly-healthy ends to their fingertips and toes… they are plagued by a stubborn condition that creates unsightly blotches on their nails, and gradually grows more vehement until their nails are almost completely destroyed. This condition, which claims more and more victims with every passing day, is called Nail Fungus.

What is Nail Fungus?

Nails are made up of hardened skin cells that contain a protein called Keratin. The living cells are contained in the ‘Matrix’, which is the half moon-shaped part of your nails, near the cuticles. Over time, new living cells are formed in the Matrix, pushing out the old skin cells, which then harden and form your nails. A healthy set of nails – be they on your fingertips or toes – is ideally colorless and transparent. The ruddy tint is attributed to the numerous blood vessels under the skin of your nail bed.

nail fungus

Onychomycosis-Nail Fungus

Clinically termed as Onychomycosis (pronounced as on-ee-co-my-co-sis) Nail Fungus is caused by a rather persistent group of microorganisms called Dermatophytes, Candida, and Non-dermatophytic Moulds. Onychomycosis occurs when these microorganisms enter your skin, either by way of a seemingly innocuous cut, or a small gap between your nail and the nail bed. Fungal Infections caused by Dermatophytes are more common in countries which have temperate climatic conditions, while Candida and Non-dermatophytic Moulds haunt the hot and humid tropics and sub-tropics.

These forms of fungus don’t need sunlight to live, and grow. In fact, as soon as these microorganisms creep in under your nails, your nails form a barrier, trapping them in a warm, humid environment, which is just what they need to survive and flourish!

This condition grows worse if you aren’t too particular about keeping your nails clean, and dry, as the fungus grows at an alarming rate when unperturbed by any changes to this snug warmth and humidity. Not surprisingly, nail fungus is a lot more likely to afflict your toenails, rather than those on your fingertips, as your feet are often stuffed into cramped, moist shoes, and bathed in your perspiration, for most of the day, the ideal conditions for nail frungus!

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