What Causes Nail Fungus? Nail Infections? Am I At Risk?

Fungal Nail Infections or so-called nail infections are often a combination of several contributing factors, which range from your choice of footwear, to your personal hygiene levels, your family’s medical history and even the part of the world you live in!

Nail infections are more common amongst the elderly, and that your susceptibility to them increases as you grow older. This is because your nail growth slows down with age, as does the circulation of blood in your body, and your immunity. Nail Fungal Infections or commonly called nail infections are most predominant in people over the age of 60, especially when accompanied by diabetes, or circulation problems.

nail infections

Beauty Salons:

While most salons maintain meticulous hygiene standards, there are also those that neglect to sterilize their equipment after every use. In such instances, if the previous client has fungal nail infection or any type of nail infections, using the same emery board, or clippers, may spread the infection to you.

Injuries to your hands, feet and nails:

Any injuries to your toes and fingers, especially the area around the nails, are possible inlets through which fungi can slink into your body. Toenail damage is especially attributed to poorly fitting shoes which, while inflicting your feet with blisters and abrasions, hence creating surreptitious doorways through which the fungi find their way to your nails and you end up getting nail infections.

To better understand this prolific condition, let’s first acquaint ourselves with the three basic kinds of infections your nails are susceptible to:

Dermatophyte Infections:

Dermatophytes are microscopic fungi which infect your hair, skin, and nails. These little critters are notorious for their feeding habits, as their primary source of food is keratin-based tissue, of which your nails are an abundant source.

Dermatophytes are the most common cause of nail fungal infections, and are also responsible for a number of other conditions like the ‘jock itch’, and athlete’s foot. Dermatophyte infections are very contagious, given that an afflicted person will continually shed tiny fragments of infected skin. Hence, you are at a high risk of contracting this infection if you tend to walk barefoot in damp public places like swimming pools, saunas, cloakrooms, dance halls, and theater stages… to name a few.

Yeast Infections:

Yeast or Candida Infections are most common in people whose nails are over-exposed to moisture, and are attributed a handsome 8% of all nail fungus cases. Individuals prone to yeast infections are often involved in industries which require them to wash their hands very often, like the heath care and food and catering industries. Candida is also responsible for a number of other infections like diaper rash and oral thrush.

Moulds:

Mould-influenced nail infections most commonly afflict toenails, as these variants of microscopic fungi are most likely to sneak under your nails when you walk barefoot on earth.

While these three kinds of fungal infections have their own ways of finding their way into their cubby hole between your nail bed, and nail plate, there are certain other Risk Factors that augment your changes of contracting nail fungus. These include:

Heredity:

Recent research seems to indicate that fungal nail infections are more common in those who are genetically predisposed; however, the medical fraternity is still largely divided about how significant a role your genes have to play in how susceptible you are.

A Suppressed Immune System and Nail Infections

Your body is most prone to developing fungal infections when your immune system is compromised, or not functioning at its optimal level. The reasons for this diminished immunity can be many; some of the most common factors include:
Immunosuppressive diseases like AIDS, Diabetes, and Cushing’s Syndrome
Medication or immunosuppressive treatments like chemotherapy
Genetic diseases like Downs Syndrome

Impaired Blood Circulation Disorders:

These include Varicose Veins and Diabetes.

Skin Conditions:

Can cause thickened nails, or lead your nails to separate from the nail bed, like psoriasis and lichen.

Irregularities in the feet:

Irregularities like overlapping toes, or a sticking out big toe, can lead your toenails to separate from the nail bed, or thicken.

Ill-fitting footwear:

Poorly fitting shoes can cramp your feet too tight, cutting off circulation of blood to the extremities, while the inadequate ventilation produces warm, stuffy conditions within your footwear – both are ideal breeding grounds for nail fungi. Athletes are invariably a lot more likely to contract nail fungus, as their routine often involves long hours of wearing poorly aired, sweaty socks, and footwear.

If you aren’t accustomed to airing your shoes after you wear them, or don’t change your socks too often, the perspiration in them creates welcome grounds for nail fungal growth, which then infest your feet as soon as you slip on the infected footwear. Over time, stuffing your feet into shoes that don’t let them ‘breathe’, can even lead to irregularities, cuts, calluses, and blood clots in your feet, which in effectively double your chances of contracting fungal nail infections.

Public Showers:

The heat, and humidity in public shower stalls, bathrooms, and locker rooms are again, cozy hideouts for nail fungi. Further, most people tend to walk barefoot in these places, whereupon the fungi escape to warm puddles of water on the floor, waiting for your unsuspecting feet to step right into them.

Your Lifestyle and Nail Infections

If your work, or personal habits, leads you to wearing closed shoes for prolonged periods, you are at a considerable risk of falling prey to nail fungi. This risk is especially exacerbated if you perspire heavily, as a lot of your perspiration builds up in your footwear, increasing the chances of fungal infestation.

On the other hand, walking barefoot in places like parks, gardens, or forest land, heighten your chances of developing mould infections.

Professionals in the healthcare and catering industry may also be at an increased risk of fungal nail infections, as their frequent contact with food, and water, make their susceptible to contracting hand mycosis infections.

Nail Polish and Acrylic Nails:

Given the unsightly nature of fungal nail infections, the first and most common reaction to signs of fungal growth, is to try and conceal it with nail polish, or artificial plastic or acrylic nails. Unfortunately, even though you may think that you are doing a remarkably good job of not letting the infection show, you are in fact helping it thrive and flourish!

Nail polish, artificial nails, or any kind of nail treatment that coats your nails, fortifies the moisture barrier, trapping in the damp, the warmth, and even the fungi. Even if your fingers and toes are infection-free, suffocating your nails by continually plastering them with layers or color, or stuffy acrylic nails can remarkably increase your chances of developing fungal nail infection.

Blood Glucose-Related Illnesses:

Conditions like diabetes, or hyperglycemia, where the glucose levels in your blood stream rise to unhealthily high levels, increase your susceptibility to fungal infections, as the sugar in your blood nourishes the wayward fungi and encourages their growth. Diabetes deserves special mention here, as the poor circulation and high levels of blood glucose that diabetics are prone to, make them easy prey to fungal infection.

Age:

Statistics reveal than fungal nail infections are more common amongst the elderly, and that your susceptibility to them increases as you grow older. This is because your nail growth slows down with age, as does the circulation of blood in your body, and your immunity. Nail Fungal Infections are most predominant in people over the age of 60, especially when accompanied by diabetes, or circulation problems. So be wary when you fall into this group that can contract nail infections.

Know Your Nail Fungus

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!

How To Beat Nail Fungus Effectively

Treating nail fungus

Treating nail fungus or  fungal nail infections is a long, arduous and often frustrating process, as your nails receive a relatively meager supply of blood, grow slowly, and respond hesitatingly to any form of medication.

In the past, methods of treating nail fungus were limited to a few dubious ointments, and other ‘home remedies’ which had very little to prove by way of results, and were condemned by hoards of detractors.

nail fungus

However, recent research and advancements have lead to the development of several newer kinds of treatment for nail fungus, which can be loosely classified into the following categories:

Topical Antifungal Treatments for nail fungus

As the name suggests, topical treatments are applied to the infected section of your skin and nails, and combat the fungi externally. These forms of treatment are especially helpful if you aren’t very comfortable with gulping down mysterious pills, and syrups. However, there are certain drawbacks associated with topical antifungal treatments which affect their feasibility and effectiveness in curbing and reversing fungal nail infections.

• Topical treatments can only be used in cases where the fungal infection has affected less then half the nail, as they cannot penetrate the nail plate deep enough to cure the more advanced stages of fungal infection.

• Health practitioners also debate the effectiveness of topical treatments in actually curing the fungus, given the limitations in the way in which they impact the infection. However, many experts now recommend using these treatments in conjunction with other forms of medication to avoid relapses, and recurrence of the infection.

Topical Treatments are of many types, and essentially contain an antifungal like Clotrimazole, which is coupled with a nail penetration enhancer to allow the treatment to seep deeper. Some of the most popular forms of topical treatments include:

Antifungal Lacquer:

Antifungal Lacquer is usually prescribed for mild to moderate infections, and is pained onto your nails and surrounding, akin to nail varnish – the only difference is that you don’t have to be quite as careful about painting within the borders! You need to apply a single coat of this lacquer over the affected area for seven consecutive days, painting each successive coat on top of the former. On the seventh day, wipe all the coats clean with alcohol and begin afresh, starting with single coat of antifungal lacquer.

Antifungal Lacquer is commonly available under the brand name of Penlac, and has been studied to clear nail fungal infections in about a year, if used regularly. However, the success ratios are not as rosy as they may seem at first blush, with less than 10% of all reported cases confirming that this form of treatment has completed cured them of nail fungal infection.

Certain other kinds of medicated creams may be prescribed by heath care practitioners or dermatologists, based on the severity of your infection. Often, these ointments are preceded by treating the affected nail with a 40% urea paste for about 2-4 weeks, to disintegrate the nail, after which the antifungal ointment or lacquer is applied. Many experts recommend keeping the nail bandaged during the course of this treatment to prevent contamination by other external agents.

Oral Medication for nail fungus

These medicines are considered a lot more effective when treating nail fungal infections, especially in cases where the infection is at its more advanced stages. This effectiveness can be attributed to the fact that these medicines treat the infection from within your body, and go on to affect the nail plate in a matter of just a few days. Oral antifungal medicines are usually administered over a period of 3 months, and should be ingested only under medical supervision.

While they do boast of higher cure rates, and fewer side effects, some of these medicines may be dangerous for individuals suffering from liver disease, and a history of cardiac disorders. To rule out any chances of unforeseen mishaps, your physician may recommend a blood test before prescribing any kind of oral medication.

Some of the more commonly used oral treatments include Lamisil tablets, and Sporanox Capsules, both of which do produce a few side effects like digestive disorders and skin rashes. However, in a few, rare cases, these medicines have also been known to provoke drug-induced hepatitis, blood anomalies and hypersensitivity.

Surgical Intervention:

In cases where your nail is severely affected by fungal infection, and does not seem to be responding to medical treatment, your physician may have to have the nail surgically, or chemically, removed to keep the infection from spreading to other unaffected nails. The affected area may then be treated with a combination of topical and oral medication.

Nail Fungal Infection Treatments  are expensive, and do not necessarily guarantee that the infection will never recur. To keep costs low, and avail of timely, effective treatment, experts usually recommend interspersing topical ointments and antifungal lacquer, with oral medication, and timely surgical intervention, if necessary.

For those who balk at the thought of pricey, complication-riddled, and not 100% foolproof medical treatments, proponents of alternative medicine prescribe certain, immensely popular Home Cures. While these methods of treatment are a lot less complicated as compared to conventional allopathic medication, their effectiveness is marred by exaggerated claims, and subjective testimonials. Further none of these treatments has been tested under clinical conditions leading medical practitioners to question their validity and scientific rationale.

Vinegar:

Vinegar, in both its white and apple cider variants, is undoubtedly one of the cheapest – and as loyalists swear – most effective ways of treating nail fungal infections. It is suggested that you immerse the infected nails in a solution of 50% water and 50% vinegar, alternating between hot and cold baths. Keep your feet immersed for a minimum of 30 minutes, and repeat this 3 times a day… preferably in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

Practitioners of alternative medicine assert the nail fungal infection usually strikes when your body’s pH Balance is disrupted. The acidity of the vinegar bath helps restore the pH equilibrium in your body, while also providing immediate relief from the itching that often accompanies fungal infections.

Apple Cider Vinegar is also considered to be especially helpful in nail fungal infections, as it has been observed to reduce the inflammation, and the pain associated with some of the more advanced stages of infection.

Alternative methods of using vinegar to treat your nail fungus include applying a few drops directly on the base of the infected nail twice a day. A less palatable alternative would be to drink about an ounce of vinegar every day… although the unpleasant taste may prompt you to think twice about considering this option!

Diet:
In keeping with the discordant pH balance theory, alternative medicine recommends modifying your diet to increase the alkalinity of your body, which in turn, is considered to make you less susceptible to nail infection.

• As per this reasoning, a fungal-resistant diet is one that includes more probiotics, or sources of good bacteria like yogurt and kefir, and minimal amounts of refined carbohydrates like white bread, and white sugar and dairy. In addition to enhancing your body’s alkalinity, this diet also helps keep a check on your blood glucose levels, which are another significant determinant in your susceptibility to nail fungus.

• It is also suggested that you fortify your diet with olive leaf-extracts, and supplements which contain the Vitamins B, C, D, and E. Zinc supplements are believed to aid the process of recovery by way of strengthening your immune system.

• Nutritionists also opine that nail fungal infections are more common in people who consume a lot of commercially brewed beer and wine. Hence cutting down on these beverages is shown to significantly aid recovery, although like most of the other natural cures, there is barely any clinical evidence to substantiate this claim. Drinking adequate amounts of water is also believed to aid recovery by boosting your immunity.

Listerine:

As with vinegar, soaking your infected nails in a basin-full of Listerine is believed to be an effective treatment for nail fungus. Similarly, dabbing your afflicted fingers or toes with a cotton swab doused generously with Listerine is also considered to be of significant help.

Yet another category of people claims to have experienced swifter and more effortless recovery, when using a combination of Listerine and vinegar. The theory claims that the herbal oils in Listerine, when combined with vinegar, boast of astounding antifungal prowess. Being considerably inexpensive and remarkably easy to adhere to, this treatment is lot more popular than some of the more conventional medical treatments.

Tea Tree Oil:

Tea Tree Oil has been found to demonstrate considerable anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. Initial laboratory trials reveal that tea-tree oil is approximately as effective as the anti-fungal Clotrimazol, significantly reducing, or even curing the infection in two-thirds of patients. Another method of combining tea tree oil with butenafine has also been studied to remarkably improve the infection in about 80% of all individuals who participated in the test.
The downside with using tea tree oil, or any other plant oils for that matter, is that they cannot penetrate your nail plate deep enough to affect the nail bed – which is where the infection is rooted. Certain other over-the-counter natural treatments for nail fungus combine two or more kinds of plant oils, with olive oil frequently used as the base. Of these, blends containing oregano, cinnamon, lemongrass, coconut, and lavender oils have been found to be especially helpful in treating milder cases of nail fungus.

VapoRub:

A seemingly whimsical addition to this list, VapoRub is a clear gel that strongly reeks of menthol and is often used to treat common colds, and chest congestions. Although the viability of this treatment is till date, a matter of opinion, many loyalists assert that topically applying VapoRub to the affected nails everyday has significantly reduced the infection.

VapoRub does contain a number of herbal extracts which could contribute to the seemingly remarkable success ratio this remedy enjoys; however, there is still no scientific evidence available to substantiate this treatment.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

A 3% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide, when applied over the affected nails, is also believed to help cure nail fungus. This pale blue liquid acts a lot like bleach, has strong oxidizing properties, and is available at most drug stores. A budget-friendly cure, you can immerse the affected fingers or toenails in a 50:50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water for about 30 minutes, or even combine it in a half-and-half solution with vinegar.

If using Hydrogen Peroxide, pay heed to the concentration of the type you buy. Using a stronger solution is often counter-productive and can actually damage your nails instead of promoting recovery.

Cayenne Pepper:

A thick paste of cayenne pepper and salt water, when applied over the infected nail, may help to cure the nail fungus. While this is one of the less common ways of treating nail fungus, there are the odd cases of complete recovery in as little as 3 weeks.

Acidophilus Beer Soak:

This beer soak, which is comprised of white vinegar, Guinness Stout beer and Acidophilus sachets is said to inhibit the growth, and even reverse nail fungus, provided you keep at it for 30 diligent minutes, two times a day.

Alternative ways of treating nail fungal infections have grown increasingly popular in recent years, especially after it was discovered that Lamisil – one of the supposedly foolproof oral treatments for nail fungus – does put you at a considerable risk of liver damage. However, experts now claim that these side-effects can easily be prevented by a simple liver test at the time of diagnosis, so that your medication can be adjusted accordingly when treating nail fungus.

Even if all your symptoms seem to add up, and you are certain that your nails have succumbed to the wrath of malicious fungi, try not to jump the gun and self-medicate yourself. The symptoms of nail fungal infection can be deceptive, and as a novice, you may unwittingly pass off signs of other, more serious illnesses as nail fungus.

And so, even as you grapple with the numerous tried-and-tested home remedies and cures, you may actually be unnecessarily delaying timely prognosis and treatment, and hence allowing your condition to rapidly deteriorate into its more advanced stages.

Diagnosing Nail Fungus:

Is a relatively brief and inexpensive procedure, and can save you a great deal of time, money, and peace of mind, if conducted at the initial stages of infection. To diagnose the cause of your condition, your physician may scrape off a little bit of your nail tissue to examine it under the microscope. If the fungus is embedded too deep, they may even resort to a method called Culturing to determine the species of nail fungus infecting your nail, and hence prescribe the most effective, accurate treatment.

If your doctor deems it necessary to culture the fungus, he will first clip a little bit of your nail, or scrape off a little nail tissue, and then place it in a container to allow the fungus to grow. These samples are then sent to the laboratory for testing, to determine the nature of your infection or nail frungus.

In certain, more advanced cases of yeast-related Mycoses, your doctor may need to perform a Nail Biopsy. It is important that you explicitly detail your medical history at the time of diagnosis, to help you physician determine the most suitable and effective treatment for your nail fungus.

Note:

Even if you are tempted to first try out some of the simpler forms of treatment described in this chapter before you head to the doctor for allopathic medication… make sure to let your doctor know what you are experimenting with. Although this simple step may appear unnecessary and over-cautious, it will help you avoid any dangerous reactions, or unintended side-effects, should the treatment go awry when treating nail fungus.

Nail Fungus Treatment Over The Counter

What Nail Fungus Treatment Over The Counter?

Treating fungal nail infections, even with nail fungus treatment over the counter,  is a long, arduous and often frustrating process, as your nails receive a relatively meager supply of blood, grow slowly, and respond hesitatingly to any form of medication.

In the past, methods of treating nail fungus were limited to a few dubious ointments, and other ‘home remedies’ which had very little to prove by way of results, and nail fungus treatment over the counter were condemned by hoards of detractors.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

However, recent research and advancements have lead to the development of several newer kinds of treatment, including nail fungus treatment over the counter, which can be loosely classified into the following categories:

Topical Antifungal Treatments:

As the name suggests, topical treatments are applied to the infected section of your skin and nails, and combat the fungi externally. These forms of treatment are especially helpful if you aren’t very comfortable with gulping down mysterious pills, and syrups.  However, there are certain drawbacks associated with topical antifungal treatments and nail fungus treatment over the counter which affect their feasibility and effectiveness in curbing and reversing fungal nail infections.

* Topical treatments can only be used in cases where the fungal infection has affected less then half the nail, as they cannot penetrate the nail plate deep enough to cure the more advanced stages of fungal infection.

* Health practitioners also debate the effectiveness of topical treatments  nail fungus treatment over the counter, in actually curing the fungus, given the limitations in the way in which they impact the infection. However, many experts now recommend using these treatments in conjunction with other forms of medication and nail fungus treatment over the counter to avoid relapses, and recurrence of the infection.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Topical Treatments are of many types, and essentially contain an antifungal like Clotrimazole, which is coupled with a nail penetration enhancer to allow the treatment to seep deeper. Some of the most popular forms of topical treatments and nail fungus treatment over the counter, include:

Antifungal Lacquer:

Antifungal Lacquer, not available as nail fungus treatment over the counter, is usually prescribed for mild to moderate infections, and is pained onto your nails and surrounding, akin to nail varnish – the only difference is that you don’t have to be quite as careful about painting within the borders! You need to apply a single coat of this lacquer over the affected area for seven consecutive days, painting each successive coat on top of the former. On the seventh day, wipe all the coats clean with alcohol and begin afresh, starting with single coat of antifungal lacquer.

Antifungal Lacquer is commonly available under the brand name of Penlac, and has been studied to clear nail fungal infections in about a year, if used regularly. However, the success ratios are not as rosy as nail fungus treatment over the counter as they may seem at first blush, with less than 10% of all reported cases confirming that this form of treatment has completely cured them of nail fungal infection.

Certain other kinds of medicated creams and nail fungus treatment over the counter,  may be prescribed by health care practitioners or dermatologists, based on the severity of your infection. Often, these ointments are preceded by treating the affected nail with a 40% urea paste for about 2-4 weeks, to disintegrate the nail, after which the antifungal ointment or lacquer is applied. Many experts recommend keeping the nail bandaged during the course of this treatment to prevent contamination by other external agents when using nail fungus treatment over the counter.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Oral Medication:

These medicines are considered a lot more effective than nail fungus treatment over the counter, when treating nail fungal infections, especially in cases where the infection is at its more advanced stages. This effectiveness can be attributed to the fact that these medicines treat the infection from within your body, and go on to affect the nail plate in a matter of just a few days. Oral antifungal medicines are usually administered over a period of 3 months, and should be ingested only under medical supervision and not commonly taken as a nail fungus treatment over the counter.

While they do boast of higher cure rates, and fewer side effects, some of these medicines may be dangerous for individuals suffering from liver disease, and a history of cardiac disorders. To rule out any chances of unforeseen mishaps, your physician may recommend a blood test before prescribing any kind of oral medication.

Some of the more commonly used oral treatments include Lamisil tablets, and Sporanox Capsules, both of which do produce a few side effects like digestive disorders and skin rashes. However, in a few, rare cases, these medicines have also been known to provoke drug-induced hepatitis, blood anomalies and hypersensitivity.

Surgical Intervention:

In cases where your nail is severely affected by fungal infection, and does not seem to be responding to medical treatment or nail fungus treatment over the counter, your physician may have to have the nail surgically, or chemically, removed to keep the infection from spreading to other unaffected nails. The affected area may then be treated with a combination of topical and oral medication and possibly using nail fungus treatment over the counter .

Nail fungal infection treatments are expensive, and do not necessarily guarantee that the infection will never recur. To keep costs low, and avail of timely, effective treatment, experts usually recommend interspersing topical ointments and antifungal lacquer, with oral medication, and timely surgical intervention, even nail fungus treatment over the counter if necessary.

For those who balk at the thought of pricey, complication-riddled, and not 100% foolproof medical treatments, proponents of alternative medicine prescribe certain, immensely popular home cures and nail fungus treatment over the counter . While these methods of treatment are a lot less complicated as compared to conventional allopathic medication, their effectiveness is marred by exaggerated claims, and subjective testimonials. Further none of these treatments and nail fungus treatment over the counter has been tested under clinical conditions, leading medical practitioners to question their validity and scientific rationale.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Vinegar:

Vinegar, in both its white and apple cider variants, is undoubtedly one of the cheapest nail fungus treatment over the counter – and as loyalists swear – most effective ways of treating nail fungal infections. It is suggested that you immerse the infected nails in a solution of 50% water and 50% vinegar, alternating between hot and cold baths. Keep your feet immersed for a minimum of 30 minutes, and repeat this 3 times a day… preferably in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

Practitioners of alternative medicine assert the nail fungal infection usually strikes when your body’s pH Balance is disrupted. The acidity of the vinegar bath helps restore the pH equilibrium in your body, while also providing immediate relief from the itching that often accompanies fungal infections.

Apple Cider Vinegar is also considered to be an especially helpful nail fungus treatment over the counter , in combatting  nail fungal infections, as it has been observed to reduce the inflammation, and the pain associated with some of the more advanced stages of infection.

Alternative methods of using vinegar to treat your nail fungus include applying a few drops directly on the base of the infected nail twice a day. A less palatable alternative would be to drink about an ounce of vinegar every day… although the unpleasant taste may prompt you to think twice about considering this option of nail fungus treatment over the counter!

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Diet:
In keeping with the discordant pH balance theory, alternative medicine recommends modifying your diet to increase the alkalinity of your body, which in turn, is considered to make you less susceptible to nail infection.

* As per this reasoning, a fungal-resistant diet is one that includes more probiotics, or sources of good bacteria like yogurt and kefir, and minimal amounts of refined carbohydrates like white bread, and white sugar and dairy. In addition to enhancing your body’s alkalinity, this diet also helps keep a check on your blood glucose levels, which are another significant determinant in your susceptibility to nail fungus and your response to nail fungus treatment over the counter.

* It is also suggested that you fortify your diet with nail fungus treatment over the counter like  olive leaf-extracts, and supplements which contain the Vitamins B, C, D, and E. Zinc supplements are believed to aid the process of recovery by way of strengthening your immune system.

* Nutritionists also opine that nail fungal infections are more common in people who consume a lot of commercially brewed beer and wine. Hence cutting down on these beverages is shown to significantly aid recovery, although like most of the other natural cures, there is barely any clinical evidence to substantiate this claim. Drinking adequate amounts of water is also believed to aid recovery by boosting your immunity and lessening the need of nail fungus treatment over the counter.

Listerine:

As with vinegar, soaking your infected nails in a basin-full of Listerine is believed to be an effective treatment for nail fungus. Similarly, dabbing your afflicted fingers or toes with a cotton swab doused generously with Listerine is also considered to be of significant help and can be regarded as another effective nail fungus treatment over the counter.

Yet another category of people claims to have experienced swifter and more effortless recovery, when using a combination of Listerine and vinegar. The theory claims that the herbal oils in Listerine, when combined with vinegar, boast of astounding antifungal prowess. Being considerably inexpensive and remarkably easy to adhere to, this treatment is lot more popular than some of the more conventional medical treatments and some forms of nail fungus treatment over the counter .

Tea Tree Oil:

Tea Tree Oil has been found to demonstrate considerable anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. Initial laboratory trials reveal that tea-tree oil is approximately as effective as the anti-fungal Clotrimazol, significantly reducing, or even curing the infection in two-thirds of patients. Another method of combining tea tree oil with butenafine has also been studied to remarkably improve the infection in about 80% of all individuals who participated in the test of using a nail fungus treatment over the counter.

The downside with using tea tree oil, or any other plant oils for that matter, is that they cannot penetrate your nail plate deep enough to affect the nail bed – which is where the infection is rooted. Certain other over-the-counter natural treatments for nail fungus combine two or more kinds of plant oils, with olive oil frequently used as the base. Of these, blends containing oregano, cinnamon, lemongrass, coconut, and lavender oils have been found to be especially helpful in treating milder cases of nail fungus and showing the effectiveness of nail fungus treatment over the counter .

VapoRub:

A seemingly whimsical addition to this list of nail fungus treatment over the counter, VapoRub is a clear gel that strongly reeks of menthol and is often used to treat common colds, and chest congestions. Although the viability of this treatment is till date, a matter of opinion, many loyalists assert that topically applying VapoRub to the affected nails everyday has significantly reduced the infection.

VapoRub does contain a number of herbal extracts which could contribute to the seemingly remarkable success ratio this remedy enjoys; however, there is still no scientific evidence available to substantiate this treatment as a nail fungus treatment over the counter.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

A 3% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide, when applied over the affected nails, is also believed to help cure nail fungus. This pale blue liquid acts a lot like bleach, has strong oxidizing properties, and is available at most drug stores. A budget-friendly cure, you can immerse the affected fingers or toenails in a 50:50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water for about 30 minutes, or even combine it in a half-and-half solution with vinegar.

If using Hydrogen Peroxide as nail fungus treatment over the counter, pay heed to the concentration of the type you buy. Using a stronger solution is often counter-productive and can actually damage your nails instead of promoting recovery.

Cayenne Pepper:

A thick paste of cayenne pepper and salt water, when applied over the infected nail, may help to cure the nail fungus. While this is one of the less common ways of treating nail fungus, there are the odd cases of complete recovery in as little as 3 weeks.

Acidophilus Beer Soak:

This beer soak, which is comprised of white vinegar, Guinness Stout beer and Acidophilus sachets is said to inhibit the growth, and even reverse nail fungus, provided you keep at it for 30 diligent minutes, two times a day.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Alternative nail fungus treatment over the counter

Alternative ways of treating nail fungal infections have grown increasingly popular in recent years, especially after it was discovered that Lamisil – one of the supposedly foolproof oral treatments for nail fungus – does put you at a considerable risk of liver damage. However, experts now claim that these side-effects can easily be prevented by a simple liver test at the time of diagnosis, so that your medication can be adjusted accordingly.

Even if all your symptoms seem to add up, and you are certain that your nails have succumbed to the wrath of malicious fungi, try not to jump the gun and self-medicate yourself with just any nail fungus treatment over the counter. The symptoms of nail fungal infection can be deceptive, and as a novice, you may unwittingly pass off signs of other, more serious illnesses as nail fungus.

And so, even as you grapple with the numerous tried-and-tested home remedies and cures, you may actually be unnecessarily delaying timely prognosis and treatment, and hence allowing your condition to rapidly deteriorate into its more advanced stages.

nail fungus treatment over the counter

Diagnosing Nail Fungus:

Is a relatively brief and inexpensive procedure, and can save you a great deal of time, money, and peace of mind, if conducted at the initial stages of infection. To diagnose the cause of your condition, your physician may scrape off a little bit of your nail tissue to examine it under the microscope. If the fungus is embedded too deep, they may even resort to a method called culturing to determine the species of fungus infecting your nail, and hence prescribe the most effective, accurate treatment and not just any nail fungus treatment over the counter.

If your doctor deems it necessary to culture the fungus, he will first clip a little bit of your nail, or scrape off a little nail tissue, and then place it in a container to allow the fungus to grow. These samples are then sent to the laboratory for testing, to determine the nature of your infection.

In certain, more advanced cases of yeast-related Mycoses, your doctor may need to perform a nail biopsy. It is important that you explicitly detail your medical history, including any nail fungus treatment over the counter, at the time of diagnosis, to help you physician determine the most suitable and effective treatment for your nail fungus.

Experimenting with nail fungus treatment over the counter

Note:

Even if you are tempted to first try out some of the simpler forms of treatment described in this post  before you head to the doctor for allopathic medication… make sure to let your doctor know what you are experimenting with. Although this simple step may appear unnecessary and over-cautious, it will help you avoid any dangerous reactions, or unintended side-effects, should the nail fungus treatment over the counter go awry.

GET THE BEST NAIL FUNGUS TREATMENT OVER THE COUNTER HERE

Causes of nail fungus

Causes of nail fungus are not difficult to find.Fungal Nail Infections are often a combination of several contributing factors, which range from your choice of footwear, to your personal hygiene levels, your family’s medical history and even the part of the world you live in!

To better understand this prolific condition or causes of nail fungus, let’s first acquaint ourselves with the three basic kinds of infections your nails are susceptible to:

  • Dermatophyte Infections
  • Yeast Infections
  • Moulds

Dermatophyte Infections can be causes of nail fungus:

Dermatophytes are microscopic fungi which infect your hair, skin, and nails. These little critters are notorious for their feeding habits, as their primary source of food is keratin-based tissue, of which your nails are an abundant source.

Dermatophytes are the leading common causes of nail fungus infections, and are also responsible for a number of other conditions like the ‘jock itch’, and athlete’s foot. Dermatophyte infections are very contagious, given that an afflicted person will continually shed tiny fragments of infected skin. Hence, you are at a high risk of contracting this infection if you tend to walk barefoot in damp public places like swimming pools, saunas, cloakrooms, dance halls, and theater stages… to name a few.

Yeast Infections can be causes of nail fungus:

Yeast or Candida Infections are most common in people whose nails are over-exposed to moisture, and can attribute a handsome 8% of all causes of nail fungus. Individuals prone to yeast infections are often involved in industries which require them to wash their hands very often, like the heath care and food and catering industries. Candida is also responsible for a number of other infections like diaper rash and oral thrush.

Moulds can be causes of nail fungus:

Mould-influenced nail infections most commonly afflict toenails, as these variants of microscopic fungi are most likely to sneak under your nails when you walk barefoot on earth leading to causes of nail fungus.

causes of nail fungus

Other causes of nail fungus

While these three kinds of fungal infections have their own ways of finding their way into their cubby hole between your nail bed, and nail plate, there are certain other Risk Factors that augment your changes of contracting nail fungus and are causes of nail fungus. These include:

  • Heredity
  • A Suppressed Immune System
  • Impaired Blood Circulation Disorders
  • Skin Conditions
  • Irregularities in the feet
  • Ill-fitting footwear
  • Public Showers
  • Your Lifestyle
  • Nail Polish and Acrylic Nails
  • Blood Glucose-Related Illnesses
  • Age
  • Beauty Salons
  • Injuries to your hands, feet and nails

Heredity:

Recent research seems to indicate that fungal nail infections are more common in those who are genetically predisposed; however, the medical fraternity is still largely divided about how significant a role your genes have to play in how susceptible you are.

A Suppressed Immune System :

Your body is most prone to developing fungal infections when your immune system is compromised, or not functioning at its optimal level. The reasons for this diminished immunity can be many; some of the most common factors include:
Immunosuppressive diseases like AIDS, Diabetes, and Cushing’s Syndrome
Medication or immunosuppressive treatments like chemotherapy
Genetic diseases like Downs Syndrome

Impaired Blood Circulation Disorders can be causes of nail fungus:

These include Varicose Veins and Diabetes as causes of nail fungus.

Skin Conditions:

Can cause thickened nails, or lead your nails to separate from the nail bed, like psoriasis and lichen.

Irregularities in the feet:

Irregularities like overlapping toes, or a sticking out big toe, can lead your toenails to separate from the nail bed, or thicken.

Ill-fitting footwear:

Poorly fitting shoes can cramp your feet too tight, cutting off circulation of blood to the extremities, while the inadequate ventilation produces warm, stuffy conditions within your footwear – both are ideal breeding grounds for nail fungi. Athletes are invariably a lot more likely to contract nail fungus, as their routine often involves long hours of wearing poorly aired, sweaty socks, and footwear, thus leading to causes of nail fungus.

If you aren’t accustomed to airing your shoes after you wear them, or don’t change your socks too often, the perspiration in them creates welcome grounds for nail fungal growth, which then infest your feet as soon as you slip on the infected footwear. Over time, stuffing your feet into shoes that don’t let them ‘breathe’, can even lead to irregularities, cuts, calluses, and blood clots in your feet, which in effectively double your chances of contracting fungal nail infections.

Public Showers:

The heat, and humidity in public shower stalls, bathrooms, and locker rooms are again, cozy hideouts for nail fungi and as such causes of nail fungus. Further, most people tend to walk barefoot in these places, whereupon the fungi escape to warm puddles of water on the floor, waiting for your unsuspecting feet to step right into them.

Your Lifestyle:

If your work, or personal habits, leads you to wearing closed shoes for prolonged periods, you are at a considerable risk of falling prey to nail fungi. This risk is especially exacerbated if you perspire heavily, as a lot of your perspiration builds up in your footwear, increasing the chances of fungal infestation.

On the other hand, walking barefoot in places like parks, gardens, or forest land, heighten your chances of developing mould infections and may surely be causes of nail fungus.

Professionals in the healthcare and catering industry may also be at an increased risk of fungal nail infections, as their frequent contact with food, and water, make their susceptible to contracting hand mycosis infections.

Nail Polish and Acrylic Nails:

Given the unsightly nature of fungal nail infections, the first and most common reaction to signs of fungal growth, is to try and conceal it with nail polish, or artificial plastic or acrylic nails. Unfortunately, even though you may think that you are doing a remarkably good job of not letting the infection show, you are in fact helping causes of nail fungus thrive and flourish!

Nail polish, artificial nails, or any kind of nail treatment that coats your nails, fortifies the moisture barrier, trapping in the damp, the warmth, and even the fungi. Even if your fingers and toes are infection-free, suffocating your nails by continually plastering them with layers or color, or stuffy acrylic nails can remarkably increase your chances of developing fungal nail infection.

Blood Glucose-Related Illnesses:

Conditions like diabetes, or hyperglycemia, where the glucose levels in your blood stream rise to unhealthily high levels, increase your susceptibility to fungal infections, as the sugar in your blood nourishes the wayward fungi and encourages their growth. Diabetes deserves special mention here, as the poor circulation and high levels of blood glucose that diabetics are prone to, make them easy prey to fungal infection.

Age:

Statistics reveal than fungal nail infections are more common amongst the elderly, and that your susceptibility to them increases as you grow older. This is because your nail growth slows down with age, as does the circulation of blood in your body, and your immunity. Nail Fungal Infections are most predominant in people over the age of 60, especially when causes of nail fungus are accompanied by diabetes, or circulation problems.

Beauty Salons:

While most salons maintain meticulous hygiene standards, there are also those that neglect to sterilize their equipment after every use. In such instances, if the previous client has fungal nail infection, using the same emery board, or clippers, may spread the infection to you.

More causes of nail fungus

Injuries to your hands, feet and nails:

Any injuries to your toes and fingers, especially the area around the nails, are possible inlets through which fungi can slink into your body. Toenail damage is especially attributed to poorly fitting shoes which, while inflicting your feet with blisters and abrasions, hence creating surreptitious doorways through which the fungi find their way to your nails and become the major causes of nail fungus.

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