NHS Leadership

Nail Fungus

Nail fungus, one of the most commonly occurring conditions across the globe, is rarely talked about and often a source of embarrassment. However, many harmless and normal conditions not only get mistaken for fungus but also are also kept hidden from other people in fear that a funny nail can be mistaken for poor hygiene. In this article we discuss what the difference is between a funny nail and a fungi nail.


The main areas considered include the skin around the nail, the colour of the nail and the surface of the nail.


Skin around the nail


If the skin around the nail is swollen, then it is often not a nail fungus. It is an infection that tends to be cause by bacteria and can often be treated with soaks. However, sometimes it can swell or get infected at which point it has to be drained by a doctor or treated with stereoid creams.


Colour of the nail


If you have pitted nails that appear to have a tan colour, then it is not nail fungus. Instead it is likely to be affected by skin problems such as psoriasis.


Sometimes trauma, such as hitting yourself in your finger with a hammer, can lead to hematoma, which is the reason for red or black nails. This is not nail fungus, and tends to disappear once it grows out with the nail. However, sometimes black spots under your nails can be signs of melanoma.


Individuals who have white or yellow nails tend to think it is nail fungus however that is not always the case. Sometimes is can be so called onycholysis. This is when the nail is separated from the nailbed and air gets trapped in the space.  This is likely to disappear within two to three months.


Onycholysis is similar to onychmycosis, which is the most common type of nail fungus. This can either be located as distal and subungal onychmycosis (DLSO) or superficial white onychmycosis (SWO). The best way to establish whether you have these is to seek medical advice whereby a small sample is analysed to see whether treatment is warranted. This is because antifungal therapies are known to be quite toxic and practitioners do not want to put patient through needless treatments.


Surface of the nail


It is not uncommon to see lines and ridges on nails and can be for a number of reasons. It is well known that nails become brittle with age, which leads to them developing ridges. However, lines and ridges are also a common result of pregnancy and nail-biting. Lines and ridges on nails may be unattractive but they are not unhealthy.

Preventive efforts for healthy nails


Although it is hard to say that anyone would like nails that look differently, it seems that there are times when unusual appearance of nails is normal and harmless. Having said that, we feel that it would be wise to end this post by sharing some expert tips on how to avoid getting some of the conditions outlined above.


Experts say that it is ideal to maintain short toenails and to always dry feet after washing them. In addition to that, it is important not to wear tight shoes and to make sure to swap exercise shoes. It is not clear how fungus is picked up, however it does seems to happen more often among individuals who regularly wear wet or sweaty socks.


We hope that this has given you a better understanding of your nails and how you can look after them!

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