Q: Good evening, Doctor. Please I have been noticing some string (something?) on my foot nails – some said it’s fungi. How can I treat it both medical and herbal or let me say, home remedies?
A: Fungal infections of the nails occur when nails are infected by fungi (as if you didn’t know that! :D), yeasts or mold. These infections can happen when there is a cut on a finger or when your nails are constantly in moist and warm environments. These nails are colonized by the fungi and result in nails that are discoloured, brittle, distorted in shape, dull or even hardened. The nails could even separate from the nail bed and then, there’s that smell, that signifies that something is not quite right ether 😀 The infection would usually start off with a white or yellow speck under the nail tip which spreads and may involve the whole nail. So, if you see a white or yellow spot under your nail tip, race to see your doctor and start treatment early!
Fungi love warm, moist places. So, toe nails are more easily infected by fungi because they are oftentimes hidden away in shoes that really don’t allow them to ‘breathe’ and are not as rich in blood supply as finger nails. Walking around barefoot in wet areas, sweating heavily and working in wet and humid conditions are also pre-disposing factors. People who have had athlete’s foot and are diabetic are more prone to these infections for reasons I have already mentioned.
How to prevent this? For finger nails, wear rubber gloves if you’re going to be working with water for extended periods, keep your nails short and trim; And yes, just in case you wondered…that means that wearing those artificial nails may be doing more damage than we know as it provides the warm, moist environment needed for fungi to grow. If you like DIY manicure and pedicure, try not to cut too close to the skin around nails to avoid injuries that could be good places for fungi to breed. Opt for reputable nail salons that have the right tools and man power and indeed buy your own manicure set.
Treatment could be with oral medications (that is drugs taken by mouth). This could be taken for up to 3 months and essentially, the infection is over when a new healthy nail grows out. Other times, your doctor could prescribe a nail polish (which contains anti-fungal ingredients) or advice a mixture of cream and lotion to be applied on the nail bed. Another option is surgery, especially if the nail is painful
As with most fungal infections, the watchword is ‘patience’. Don’t be in a hurry to conclude the medications; it may take a while. Take solace in the fact that, ‘this too shall pass’ 😀