The 411 on Nail Infections –

The 411 on Nail Infections


How to keep them at bay
At the top of the list of things we would rather not talk about are infections. But, in the name of healthy and beautiful nails, we’re going to right now! So how exactly do we treat fungal infections? (What follows may not concern you, since you’re probably asking for a “friend of a friend”. Same goes for us; only “a friend of a friend” usually goes through stuff like this, right?)

What is a fungal nail infection?
The scientific term is onychomycosis. A nail infection is caused by the invasion of microscopic fungi that feed on the keratin in the nails.  The latter multiply in warm, moist and dark places—think shoes, locker rooms and the like.At first, you may notice a white or yellow stain under the nail. Afterwards? The nail thickens, becomes discoloured and cracks as the infection progresses. It’s not pretty.

How does it develop?
You can contract these nasty fungi when walking barefoot in public places, especially wherever it is humid. That’s where fungus lives. Hence, you can contract it from another person. The infection can also be passed on through a nail file. As such, exercise caution when you go to the salon for a manicure! Once a nail is infected, the others are at risk of becoming infected, as well.

It’s worth noting that a wound or cut near the toenails and fingernails makes it easier for fungi to get in. Indeed, accidentally hitting yourself with a hammer can cause an infection. Ouch!While 14% of the adult population suffers from fungal infections, elderly people especially often have thickened, brittle and dull nails. Diabetes, circulation problems and a weakened immune system can also increase the risk of contracting a fungal infection.How can we treat it?
One can dream, but an infection never goes away on its own. As a matter of fact, it may even cause permanent damage to the nail. Hence, it’s better to act… and fast.

Some treatments are available by prescription only. When you consult a doctor, he or she will determine whether there is an infection (or not!) by collecting a small nail sample. He or she will then prescribe an oral antifungal treatment that you would normally take for a period of 12 weeks. That way, the medication travels through the bloodstream and reaches the fungus under the nail to then eradicate it.

You can also pick up an over-the-counter topical treatment in pharmacy. But make sure to read the small print since many of these treatments are known not to be effective. We were recently put onto a new product called Emtrix (between $34.99 and $39.99), which can improve the look of your nails in two to four weeks. Only a thin layer on the nail is needed. However, beware: like with any topical treatment, wearing nail polish is not allowed during the course of treatment.

Don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist. Or, pass this information on to that “friend of a friend”!

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