Among the diseases of the toenails a special place belongs to onychomycosis, as this pathology affects every 10 inhabitants of the planet. The treatment of toenail fungus is a rather time consuming process, as therapy often begins when the disease is in an advanced stage. According to research, the disease more often affects men aged 40-45 years, and after 60 years the risk of developing pathology increases 3-4 times. Timely treatment will help get rid of the problem.
The reasons for the development of pathology
Very rarely, a fungal infection affects only the nail plate. Most often, the inflammatory process spreads to the toes and feet. The disease can be provoked by three types of fungi: yeast, mold and dermatophytes. The latter provoke the disease most often. The reasons for the development of infection can be:
- Elderly patients usually suffer from various chronic diseases, do not have the opportunity to conduct thorough foot hygiene, have a weakened immune system, slow blood circulation. The combination of these factors often leads to fungal infections.
- Patients with diabetes are at risk because they have concomitant vascular pathologies, especially small capillaries in the legs. A common complication of these disorders is the appearance of small ulcerations, on the surface of which fungi grow rapidly.
- Frequent microtraumas of the nail plate during cutting or bruising. Everyone encounters this problem from time to time. As a rule, for this reason, a fungus appears on the nail of the big toe, the treatment of which is complicated, because this area is injured more often than others and has a denser structure.
- Systemic and chronic diseases affecting the vascular system: varicose veins, scleroderma, lupus erythematosus. Such diseases are most often accompanied by a violation of the blood supply to the tissues, which negatively affects the protective barrier and provokes the appearance of fungi.
- If the patient already suffers from a fungal infection on any part of the body, the risk of nail plate infection increases several times.
- Weakening of the immune system and defenses makes a person susceptible to all kinds of pathogenic microorganisms. It is enough to catch a cold and the pathological process begins.
- Fans of public saunas and baths are 4 times more likely to suffer from onychomycosis, as the hygiene of rooms, swimming pools and showers is not always at the right level.
The disease belongs to the group of infectious. You can be infected by a sick person, pets, as well as by contact with soil, water and plants infected with pathogens.
Common forms of onychomycosis
Quite often the treatment of mycosis of the toenails depends on the form of the pathological process. The most common are the following:
- The distal-lateral form is considered the initial stage of the disease. It mainly affects the free or lateral edge of the nail plate, the whole area of the nail gradually suffers. As a rule, this form of fungus becomes another, more complex.
- Superficial white pathology is most often caused by mold. In the early stages, the nail plate begins to whiten, may peel off and fall off. This form most often occurs in people whose professional activity is associated with prolonged contact of hands with water. As a result, the nail softens and lesions appear. This variety is observed in case of incomplete destruction of the infection.
- The proximal shape, which causes thickening of the toenails, is quite rare. A characteristic of this type of disease is that the lesion starts from the root area of the nail to the cuticle. Therefore, patients with this form rarely see a doctor in the early stages. As the pathology progresses, even a healthy nail can peel off.
- The most dangerous form is total dystrophy. The pathology is a consequence of the lack of treatment for one of the previous forms. It is characterized by slow progression over the years. If the process develops rapidly, they indicate the presence of concomitant systemic disease. It is observed mainly in elderly patients.
Each form requires qualified treatment. In its absence, the infection penetrates deeper, which makes the fight no more difficult.
Symptoms of a pathological condition
The first signs of onychomycosis are similar to other diseases of the toenails. Disruption of the structure of the nail can be manifested by its thickening or thinning. Atrophic processes indicate the presence of serious concomitant pathologies. The disease manifests itself with the following symptoms:
- Even discoloration of the nail plate, which depends on the type of pathogen. Most often the plate turns yellow.
- The surface becomes rough and porous. As you progress, this symptom worsens.
- White spots may appear under the nail, which appear as a result of its peeling at the base.
- Gradual stratification of the structure, starting from the free edge.
- There is a loss of shine associated with peeling off a thin top layer or skin, the nail looks unnatural.
- Slow peeling of the whole plate. As a rule, the process starts from the growth zone.
- The appearance on the surface of crumbs that are exfoliated areas of the nail.
- Complete destruction of the slab, starting from the free edge.
Accompanying signs are changes in the skin around the affected area: detachment of the epidermis of the feet, toes, intense formation of irregularities. Each of the symptoms requires qualified medical attention.
Basic diagnostic methods
During the initial examination, the doctor must distinguish onychomycosis from other dermatological diseases (psoriasis, keratoderma), which have similar clinical manifestations. Based on these data, a preliminary diagnosis is made, which can only be confirmed by more accurate examination methods.
A sample of the affected nail is then taken to determine the presence of a fungal infection in its structure. The final conclusion about why the destruction of the nail occurs and what kind of fungus has provoked the process can be made with the help of culture research. During the procedure, the specific type of fungus that caused the disease is identified. After this study, the final diagnosis is made. With the correct determination of the type of pathogen, the specialist selects the appropriate treatment regimen that will deal with the disease as quickly as possible.
Drug therapy scheme
Drug therapy is aimed at destroying the pathogen at the site of the lesion and throughout the body if the disease is advanced. Conservative therapy includes local and systemic treatment.
Mild degree of fungal pathology, when small changes in the plaque are observed, without disturbing the structure and the accompanying symptoms, is treated with topical drugs:
- Preparations from the group of azoles are aimed at slowing down the growth and development of pathogens. The drugs are available in the form of cream, ointment and solution. Apply morning and evening until the symptoms disappear completely. It is then recommended that the drug be used for another 5-7 days to consolidate the result and rule out recurrence.
- Means that destroy fungal cells, which prevents their further development. The standard scheme involves the use of funds twice a day.
- Hydroxypyridone derivatives prevent the reproduction of pathogens. Most often, the funds are prescribed in the form of cream or nail polish, which is used in the morning and evening.
- Salicylic and sulfur ointment belongs to the group of keratolytics. The use of the product helps to soften dead tissues so that the fungus cannot continue to grow due to lack of nutrition. Gradually, the ointment helps the affected nail to peel off. The number of applications per day depends on the degree of damage to the plate.
- To prevent the addition of a bacterial infection, an alcoholic infusion of iodine in the form of compresses is used.
- Multivitamin complexes are prescribed to strengthen the immune system. This helps the body deal with the symptoms of onychomycosis faster.
If the surrounding tissues are involved in the pathological process, there is no effect of local treatment and complete destruction of the nail plate is observed, the use of systemic drugs is indicated.
The duration of treatment and dosage are determined only by the doctor. It is unacceptable to use the drugs alone, as there is a high risk of side effects.
Alternative ways to solve the problem
In some cases, surgical removal of the affected nail is indicated. This method is almost not used in modern medical practice. The indication for the procedure may be the addition of a bacterial infection and the complete lack of visible effect from the use of local and systemic drugs. However, taking the pill does not stop after removing the source of inflammation.
An alternative to surgery is to dissolve the plate with special solutions that promote layer tissue death and help the affected plate to separate safely. This method is practiced at home. You should not start the procedure without consulting a specialist.
To date, the effectiveness of laser therapy has been proven in the treatment of onychomycosis. The procedure consists of exposing the affected area to laser beams that penetrate deep into the structure and destroy pathogens. The principle of action is similar to that of local antifungal drugs. Such treatment is indicated for intolerance to such drugs. A prerequisite for laser therapy is its combination with tablets.
Recipes for traditional medicine
Onychomycosis was known to ancient healers, so there are many folk remedies that successfully deal with the signs of pathology. The most effective are the healing baths with the addition of medicinal herbs, as well as the home solutions for local use:
- An effective remedy is a bath with the addition of a decoction of celandine. The broth should be prepared from 200 g of crushed raw materials and 2 liters of water. The mixture is boiled for 20 minutes, cooled to a comfortable temperature. Procedure time 20-30 minutes, repeat daily until symptoms disappear.
- Consecutive baths are allowed to be done daily for 2 weeks. To prepare the broth, you will need 2 liters of water and 40 g of dry grass, the mixture is boiled for 15 minutes and is ready for use after 20 minutes of infusion. The session lasts 30 minutes.
- To treat the affected nail it is necessary to prepare an infusion of 100 ml of medical alcohol and 10 g of fresh lilac flowers. The drug needs to insist for 7-8 days. The solution is then used to treat the areas of inflammation in the morning and evening until complete recovery.
Alternative medicine is recommended to be used in combination with drugs and only after the approval of the attending physician. It should be understood that the fungus is not only a cosmetic defect, but also a serious blow to the whole body. In the absence of treatment, a bacterial infection occurs, which significantly complicates therapy. It is advisable to consult a specialist at the first signs of illness.