Fingernail fungus or onychomycosis is an infection that affects the nails and the surrounding skin and it is caused by Dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are comprised of three types of fungus. This infection can also be caused by non-dermatophytic moulds and by Candida albicans, which is a type of yeast.
Fingernail fungus is not very dangerous and in the worst case scenario the nail will be lost and the infection will spread to the other fingernails. This can be prevented if the infection is caught early on and adequately treated.
Symptoms of fingernail fungus
The fungus inhabits the area below the nail plate and it eats away the keratin that coats and protects the nail. If a fingernail is affected by fungus, the symptoms will include yellow, cloudy and thickened nail plate. The nail can eventually turn very rough and become brittle and crumbly. The plate may detach from the nailbed and eventually fall off.
Pharmacological treatment for fingernail fungus
The treatment for fungus infections of fingernails typically consists of systemic anti-fungal medications, such as terbinafine and itraconazole. Topical medications in the form of nail paints with Ciclopirox and amorolfine are also available. Hydrogen peroxide is recommended as complementary therapy against fingernail fungus and it is used for soaking the nails.
Home remedies for fingernail fungus
The treatment for this infection can require quite some time, because the fungus is very persistent and, due to its location, hard to reach. For this reason many people try home remedies in addition to conventional, pharmacological treatment.
Vinegar is one of the most effective natural remedies against fungus. Half a cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar should be mixed with a cup of water and this mixture should be used for soaking the infected fingernail for 15 minutes every day.
Vics Vaporub can be used to inhibit the fungus growth and to prevent spreading. It is recommended to rub it on and around the nail several times a day, until the infection clears.
Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties and it can be used to fight fingernail fungus. It is recommended to take two drops of this oil and to rub it on the nail once every day. In case it causes a burning or itching sensation, tea tree oil can be combined with olive oil.
Neem oil is also found to be very useful for this purpose.
Until the infection clears, it is very important to keep the nails as clean and dry as possible and they should be trimmed or clipped short. It is also recommended to frequently replace hand towels with fresh ones.