Overview of nail fungus (ONYCHOMYCOSIS)*
Nail fungus is caused by fungi, most commonly dermatophytes and less commonly, yeast (Candida). The fungus usually invades the nail at the free edge and then spreads down the side toward the base. Less commonly, it starts from the base and moves upward. Infection may occur in patches or streaks on the nail surface. Nail fungus infections are progressive, recurring and contagious.
- Nail fungus infections affected approximately 8% of the Canadian population.
- Men are at 2.4 times greater risk of developing a nail fungus infection than women.
- Elderly people are also more prone to onychomycosis.
- Almost one in three diabetics suffering from nail fungus.
- Nails take a long time to grow out. Even when treated, it may take as much as 12 to 18 months for a healthy nail to grow out and for nail appearance to improve.
- Nail fungus tends to run in families, and may be passed from one person to another
- Fungal infections affect toenails more often than fingernails, as fungi grow better in a warm and moist shoe or sock environment.
- Infection may spread to other nails if left untreated.
Other contributing factors include a history of athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration.