Causes of nail fungus, development, risk factors, signs

Beautiful and healthy nails always attract the attention of others and in some cases are considered a guarantee of good health. Vitamin and mineral deficiency can worsen the condition of the nails, but sometimes the problem is deeper, associated with a fungal infection. Nail fungus or the medical term "onychomycosis" refers to common and insidious diseases that can completely destroy the nail plate. Why does the disease develop, what are the signs and how to get rid of nail fungus.

How it is developing

Nail fungus (onychomycosis) is an infectious disease caused by pathogenic fungi - parasites. According to medical observations, the disease is diagnosed in 7% of the adult population. During the development of onychomycosis, pathogenic fungal pathogens affect the tissues of the nails, which leads to a violation of their structure.

The source of fungal infection is most often parasitic fungi. Infection most often occurs in public places (changing rooms, bathrooms, saunas). The scales of fungal parasites, having attached themselves to the skin of a healthy person, penetrate the upper layers of the epidermis, begin their active reproduction, secrete waste products that poison the human body, reduce immune defenses and render the body defenseless againstvarious secondary infections. Spores of pathogenic fungi are introduced into the layers of the nail plate, which begins to lose its natural color, white and yellow spots appear. If treatment is not done at this stage, the plaque will deform, followed by its destruction and damage to healthy toes.

Basically, toenail fungus is a consequence of mycosis, in which the feet or interdigital areas are damaged. In the international classification of diseases, onychomycosis is under the code B35. 1 and belongs to the category of parasitic and infectious diseases.

pathogenic toenail fungi

Causes and risk factors

The etiology of the disease is based on the infection of the nails with pathogenic fungi, including:

  • dermatophytes (T. rubrum, T. interdigitale);
  • yeast of the genus candida (C. aibicans, C. tropicalis);
  • molds (Fusaria, Alternaria).

In addition to the root cause of the disease, there are a number of predisposing factors that increase the risk of developing onychomycosis. The trigger for the activation of a fungal infection can be:

  • lack of nail care;
  • diabetes;
  • varicose veins;
  • obesity;
  • trauma;
  • wearing tight shoes;
  • poor quality pedicure;
  • taking potent medications.

Particular attention in the development of the disease is given to the state of the immune system. With strong immunity, the human body will be able to resist pathogenic flora even after its penetration into the body, but if immunity is reduced, the fungal mycelium is easily introduced into the epithelium of the nail, which causes inflammatory changesand dystrophic.

Nail fungus should not be considered a cosmetic problem, as the toxins secreted by the fungus can spread throughout the body and cause a number of concomitant diseases.

itching and burning in the interdigital areas of the legs are the first signs of a fungal infection

Clinical signs

Normally, the nail plate is smooth and even, but with the development of fungal infection, its structure is disturbed and its appearance deteriorates. Onychomycosis is a slowly progressing disease. The first signs of the disease are noticed not immediately after contact with the pathogen, but after a while, when the spores of the fungi penetrate into the deep tissues.

Onychomycosis can be recognized by the following signs:

  • itching and burning in the interdigital areas;
  • small cracks in the skin of the fingers;
  • severe sweating of the legs;
  • peeling of the periungual platinum;
  • unpleasant smell;
  • redness of the skin;
  • thickening of the nail;
  • dullness, yellow and roughness.

Pathological changes are present not only on the nails, but also on the skin of the legs, especially between the toes and toes.

In dermatology, there are three main stages of onychomycosis:

  • Normotrophic type - the disease often goes unnoticed, which leads to its progression. On the nails, you can notice small spots or streaks, it loses its luster, it can change its thickness, itching and burning.
  • Hypertrophic onychomycosis - there is a thickening and deformation of the nail, bird claw syndrome.
  • Atrophic - destruction of the nail plate, the nail moves away from the bed. The only treatment for the atrophic form of the disease is the removal of the nail.

With deep damage to the nails, the infection penetrates the bloodstream, significantly reduces the functioning of the immune system, which increases the risk of developing other diseases.

stages of development of the fungus


Before treating nail fungus, it is necessary to determine the type of pathogen. The doctor collects anamnesis, conducts an examination, prescribes tissue scraping, which will help determine the type of pathogen. If necessary, fluorescent diagnostics will be prescribed, which consists in examining the nail using a Wood's lamp.

After the examination and the results of the examination, the patient will be prescribed treatment.

nail examination by a dermatologist

Effective treatments for fungal nail infection

Treatment of onychomycosis is a rather long process, which consists of complex therapy. Modern dermatology provides several effective methods of getting rid of onychomycosis. In practice they often use:

  • systemic antimicrobial and antifungal drugs;
  • local antifungals;
  • Physiotherapy;
  • hardware cosmetology;
  • folk remedies;
  • surgery to remove a diseased nail.

To achieve the maximum therapeutic effect, in addition to the main treatment, it is important to monitor the hygiene of the feet and nails.

Pharmacy preparations

Modern pharmacology provides a fairly wide range of drugs that can cure nail fungus. They are produced by different manufacturers in different forms and have different costs. In therapy, drugs of systemic and symptomatic action are most often used. In the first case, the drug has a detrimental effect on pathogenic fungal pathogens, destroys their cell structure and prevents further reproduction and spread. Symptomatic medications relieve symptoms, relieve itching, flaking, and improve the appearance of the nail.

Treatment of onychomycosis can take from 3 to 6 months and sometimes it will take more than a year, while there is always the risk of reinfection.

The most effective remedy is etiotropic therapy, which consists in the use of tablets, capsules, local drugs, ointments, gels, varnishes.

In practice, antifungal pills are most often used:

  • Ketoconazole.
  • Terbinafine.
  • Fluconazole.
  • Griseofulvin.

Active components of such drugs destroy pathogenic fungal flora, block the growth and reproduction of pathogens. They can only be prescribed by a doctor individually for each patient.

Topical preparations act right in the center of inflammation, relieve symptoms, destroy pathogenic fungal flora:

  • Ketoconazole cream.
  • Amorolfin paint.
  • Terbinafine ointment or spray.
  • Creoline is a solution for nail treatment.

If nail fungus is diagnosed, drug treatment is inexpensive, but effective, it is necessary to pay attention to the products of domestic pharmacological companies, the cost of which is several times lower than foreign drugs. At the same time, the effect of the treatment is similar to expensive drugs.

In the initial stages of the disease or in combination with other methods of treatment, it is possible to achieve a good effect from keratolytic agents:

  • Bifonazole.
  • Salicylic acid.

They are produced in the form of a patch, which, after steaming, is glued to the sore nail. They must be used according to the instructions for use.

Important: after the treatment is completed and the symptoms of the disease have been eliminated, the risk of relapse will always be present, so it is necessary to monitor the cleanliness of your feet, periodically use ointments to prevent the re-development of the disease.

treatment of nail fungus with drugs


Physiotherapeutic treatment of onychomycosis will accelerate the recovery period, improve blood circulation and increase the growth of healthy tissues. The effectiveness has:

  • diathermy;
  • amplipulse therapy;
  • laser treatment;
  • paraffin applications;
  • darsonvaluation;
  • magnetotherapy.

Such procedures are prescribed in short courses - up to 10 days.

Folk remedies

Traditional medicine comes to the aid of traditional therapy. Various herbs, improvised means, essential oils are used as medicinal raw materials. Consider some effective recipes:

soda baths to get rid of toenail fungus

Soda bath. It possesses an antimicrobial effect, destroys pathogenic fungal parasites, eliminates unpleasant odor, allows you to soften the nail before removing it. For cooking, you need to dilute 2 tablespoons of soda in 2 liters of warm water, mix well and hold the feet for 10-15 minutes.

Iodine. A powerful antiseptic to destroy pathogenic fungal flora. It is necessary to apply iodine solution on the sore nail, without touching the skin 1 time in 2 days.

Essential oils. You can get rid of nail fungus with lavender or tea tree essential oils. It is enough to apply clean oil on the nail using a cotton swab. It is recommended to carry out the procedure before bedtime.

Calamus root. To prepare the medicine, you need to take 30 g of calamus root, pour boiling water, put on low heat for 5 minutes. Then leave for 1 hour, drain. The resulting broth can be used to process nails or take 50 ml orally, diluted 1: 1 with water. Treatment should be continued for approximately 2 weeks.

When using any remedy for toenail fungus, you need to make sure there are no allergies.

Alternative medicine is not a panacea, but nevertheless, as a means of prevention or in the initial stages of the disease, it has a good therapeutic effect.

If the effect of conservative therapy is absent or the disease is ongoing, the doctor prescribes an operation to remove the nail plate. Its implementation will reduce the intake of drugs, to speed up the recovery period.


The prevention of onychomycosis consists in observing some rules that every person must follow:

  • Keep your feet and nails clean regularly.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • Proper and fortified nutrition.
  • Promptly treat all concomitant diseases.

Observing the basic rules, you can significantly reduce the risk of morbidity. It is important to exclude self-medication at the first signs of the disease, only a dermatologist can tell you how to quickly cure nail fungus and eliminate all kinds of complications of the disease. If there is a patient with onychomycosis in the house, her relatives must exclude any possible contact with her personal belongings, as there is a high risk of infection for the whole family.