Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Happened to Your Feet? Inside Fungal Infections

*I first published this article as What Happened to Your Feet? Inside Fungal Infections on Blogcritics.

Interestingly enough, a fungus is a kind of plant many of which we eat. Mushrooms, mold, and mildew are examples of fungi. Fungi live in air, in soil, on plants, and in water, and on our bodies. Fungus grows best on warm, damp skin.  Given all the many places that fungi grow, it’s no wonder catching a nail infection can appear very easy.

According to Richards (2011), the fungus that infects the nail usually spreads from infected skin close to the nail.  Risk factors for catching a fungal nail infection are diabetes, immune system weakness, participating in contact sports, swimming and frequent contact with animals. 

Infected nails are by far not attractive and no amount of manicures and pedicures will beautify or camouflage a raging infection.  Infected nails are brittle, thickened, ragged, and yellow or brown. Because they are brittle, they may lift, crumble, or flake.  If you suspect a nail infection, see your healthcare provider. If your infection is mild, your provider may prescribe a topical medication.  More severe infections may require taking pills by mouth. Your medications may come with instructions to take until the nail grows all the way out and there is no longer any sign of the fungal infection.  Fingernails usually grow out within six months, twelve months for toenails. 

Fungal Infection Prevention

Keep your hands and feet as dry as possible. Change socks often. Wear shoes that breathe well. Avoid going barefoot in public places, such as shower stalls and locker rooms at the gym. It is best to wear shower shoes in public showers and clean them often.

Richards, T. (2011). Onychomycosis.  NursingConsult, (2011), . 

The Mayo Clinic (2010), Nail Fungus

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