Nail plate fungus (onychomycosis) is a fairly common dermatological disease, affecting up to 20% of the world population in one form or another.
One or more nails can be affected by any of the varieties of dermatophytes (microorganisms that parasitize the human body), both on the hands and feet. The causative agents of onychomycosis multiply rapidly in a humid and warm environment, in shady places. Infectious dermatophyte fungi can corrode not only the nails, but also the skin and hair. Older people have a higher prevalence of the disease.
Let's take a closer look at why the fungus appears and also look at the 5 most effective drugs for toenail fungus treatment at home.
How can you get a mushroom
Onychomycosis is an infectious disease. The pathogen enters the body from the external environment. Let's find out what causes nail fungus, the causes of this disease are different.
The source of infection can be:
- A sick man. Some types of fungi parasitize only humans, so you can only get infected with a sick person. You can get infected with nail fungus on the legs either by direct contact with the patient, or by using common items - shoes, towels, etc.
- Animals. There are types of fungi that affect both humans and animals. People tend to become infected through contact with sick animals.
- Wednesday. Another type of fungus can multiply outside of living organisms. You can get infected from contact with soil or water.
Therefore, you can get infected anywhere. But, of course, not all contact with the pathogen ends with the development of a fungus on the toenails. The following provoking factors can lead to the development of onychomycosis:
- age after 60;
- circulatory disorders in the lower limbs;
- weakened immunity caused by a chronic disease or other factors;
- wearing uncomfortable and breathable shoes.
How does nail fungus start? The initial stage of toenail fungus does not cause physical discomfort, the changes affect the appearance of the nail plate. Nail fungus in the initial stage is manifested by the appearance of spots or stripes of an unnatural color. If toenail fungus is not treated early on, disease progression will begin.
All fungi tend to aggressively colonize their host. The growth of mycelium in tissues is similar to the growth of tree roots in a building. Branching, the body of the fungus destroys the cellular structure of tissues, causing destruction.
It's about how they absorb food. The mycelium secretes enzymes that destroy dead keratinocytes, nail plate cells and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, these enzymes not only target dead cells, but also destroy healthy ones.
The progression of the disease occurs in five stages:
- Infection. The fungus attaches itself to the dead skin flakes, gradually crawling to the nail. No symptoms are observed.
- normotrophic. The nail fades and turns yellow at the edges, slightly thickens at the corners. There is an unpleasant smell and sensations.
- Hypertrophic. Yellow covers the entire nail, deformation of the nail plate occurs with the appearance of transverse streaks. In 60% of cases it is accompanied by a thickening of the entire nail. The edge of the nail plate loosens, exfoliates.
- Atrophic. Pieces of the nail plate fall off, exposing the nail bed, covered with loose horny masses. The nails are dull, yellowish or gray in color.
- Onycholysis. The nail plate becomes thinner and falls out. If the matrix is not affected, the nail will grow back.
The good news for us is that mycelium does not penetrate living tissue. It has enough dead cells, and when it enters the nail bed, the fungus is immediately attacked by the immune system and dies. However, with prolonged infection, a violation of the trophism of the nail leads to a weakening of the barrier function, and pieces of mycelium can enter the bloodstream in search of a new fertile place. In addition, the constant struggle with the fungus depletes the reserves of immunity.
To confirm the diagnosis, the specialist sends the patient a referral for tests:
- Microscopy. A scraping taken from the nail plate is processed by a laboratory assistant with a special substance to destroy keratin. In this form, the material is easier to examine under a microscope. The disadvantage of microscopic examination is the impossibility of determining the type of fungus. However, the answers from the analysis already serve as the basis for prescribing broad-spectrum antifungals.
- Cultural research. Under laboratory conditions, the material is placed in a Sabouraud nutrient medium - sowing for the rapid development of the fungus. The causative agent is identified by the color, growth rate and colony shape of the parasite. Furthermore, the technique reveals the sensitivity of the strains to drugs. But the patient receives the results of the analysis only 3 to 5 days after the execution.
- DNA diagnostics. Detection of the DNA cells of a fungal infection occurs when studying a scraping of a nail affected by dermatophytes or candida fungi. The method does not detect mold strains. The results of the analysis are provided to the patient within 1-2 days. The disadvantage of the DNA diagnostics of onychomycosis of the feet is the high cost due to the need to use special equipment.
The external symptoms of the fungus are not specific, they only indicate damage to the toenails. The cause of the disease becomes clear only after diagnostic studies. To prescribe adequate therapy, onychomycosis of the feet differs from lichen planus, psoriasis of the nails, keratoderma and other diseases that cause malnutrition of the nails.
How to cure a fungus at home
Don't expect the fungus to disappear on its own. The longer a person suffers from this disease, the more difficult further treatment will be.
The duration of the course of treatment and the choice of drugs depend on:
- Stages of the disease.
- The degree of damage to the nail.
- Clinical form of the disease.
Before starting active actions, it is necessary to minimize the negative impact of the external environment, eliminate the reasons why the fungus appeared under the toenails:
- A warm and humid environment is ideal for the growth of various microorganisms, try to dry your shoes all the time after walking, wear socks only with natural materials that ensure normal heat and air exchange;
- Foot fungus often appears due to poor immunity, you can simply step on the floor with bare feet and catch an infection, take vitamins to avoid it;
- Frequent nail extensions can be one of the causes of onychomycosis, limit the procedure to 1 session every six months;
- The most difficult to remove is a fungus caused by active spores. They penetrate into the cavities between the nails and fingers, can be in a dormant phase for some time, and then grow sharply. Most often they get infected in public places (swimming pools, showers, solariums), when using someone else's shoes, etc.
The initial stages of nail fungus require the use of topical preparations, which can be in the form of:
- Ointment from the fungus.
It is desirable to apply preparations for external use after keratolytic treatment of the nail plate.
Before each procedure of using the drug, it is necessary:
- Take a soap and soda bath. A spoonful of soda and salt and 50 g of laundry soap are added to a small bath. Keep your feet in the solution for about 15 minutes.
- Treat the damaged nail. Using a special nail file, the top layer of the nail is undermined so that the drug is better absorbed.
- Apply medications. The drug is applied to dry, clean toenails and surrounding skin.
When using solutions, ointments and creams, the drug is applied 2-3 times a day, paints - 2 times a week. The course of treatment is determined by the doctor based on the existing damage.
If the nails are completely affected and local preparations do not have a positive effect, it is recommended to combine them with systemic antifungals.
Systemic drugs have an extensive list of contraindications and must be prescribed by the attending physician. Most of them are prohibited during pregnancy and lactation, in childhood and with chronic diseases of the liver and kidneys.
In severe cases of subungual fungus, the nail plate may need to be removed. The procedure can be performed both surgically and with the help of keratolytics, which contain salicylic acid and urea.
Removal of the affected nail with keratolytic patches is distinguished by its painlessness and convenience. After steaming the legs, the patch is carefully applied to the affected nail plate and sealed with tape. After a few days, the patch is removed, the affected areas of the plaque are cut off, one of the antifungal drugs is applied. The procedure is carried out several times.
Effective drugs for the treatment of fungi
If the disease is not started, only local remedies can be used: paint, solution with antifungal effect.
The use of such funds is generally long-term. You can restore your nails if you use the products regularly. Then, the paint is applied twice a week for 6-12 months. The use is carried out according to a special scheme described in the instructions. It is permissible to cover the nail on top with manicure varnish.
If external ointments, creams and medical paints do not help enough to remove the fungus, you can use oral remedies - tablets. They have the same properties as ointments and will not allow further spread and reproduction of fungi.
Get rid of the foot fungus, so quickly it will not work. Treatment of onychomycosis will take about 6-12 months, depending on the form of the disease, the stage and its course. After all, complex therapy involves the use of various drugs and a recovery period, during which the dermatologist prescribes a maintenance course.
Nail fungus is not just a cosmetic defect, but a serious disease that reduces the protective functions of the body. Against the background of weak immunity, dangerous pathologies can develop. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will help avoid the problems associated with nail fungus. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully monitor your health.
The 5 best home remedies for nail fungus
Natural folk remedies are quite effective for nail fungus in its early stages. Most of them used at home really help get rid of the disease.
1) Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide perfectly removes toenail fungus in a neglected (chronic) form, but the treatment will be quite long. Dermatologists recommend, in the process of getting rid of the pathology, daily lubrication of perhydrol (once every 2 days) and healthy nails to prevent infection.
So, how to cure advanced toenail fungus with hydrogen peroxide?
- Method 1. Steam the legs in a basin (bucket) and try to remove (cut, scrape) the affected crust from the nails. Dip a gauze pad in perhydrol and apply it to the treated nail. Wrap with cling film on top. Repeat the procedure twice a day until a healthy nail plate grows back.
- Method 2. Combine perhydrol with apple cider vinegar in equal quantities. Dip a gauze napkin with the resulting composition and attach it to the nail corroded by the disease. Wait for the effervescent effect to complete. Rinse your feet with running water, dry them well. Then, apply a pharmaceutical preparation prescribed by doctors.
- Method 3. Steam your feet in hot water with the addition of liquid laundry soap or blue vitriol, wipe dry. A cotton swab, abundantly moistened with peroxide, apply to the affected nail, cover with a piece of film, fix with a bandage strip. Withstand the compress for 35-40 minutes, scrape the softened tissue eaten by the fungus. Then, treat the surface with an antifungal medication prescribed by an infectious disease specialist.
Treatment of onychomycosis in advanced form with vinegar (wine, apple) is a proven and effective way. To achieve the expected result, it is important:
- Use a natural product without chemical additives;
- Observe the proportions in the compositions;
- Follow the treatment regimen;
- Just use your stuff.
Taking acid baths
Prepare a basin (bucket) where you can comfortably place your feet. Pour in warm water and vinegar (in equal quantities). The fingers must be completely covered with the cleaning liquid. The duration of the session is 40-50 minutes. Sessions should be repeated until the affected cornea is completely replaced. In the complicated stage of onychomycosis, baths should be carried out with the simultaneous administration of pharmaceutical preparations, which will be prescribed by a mycologist.
Making vinegar compresses
Pour 2 tablespoons into a bowl. spoons of apple cider vinegar, prepare a cotton ball (disc), cling film. Soak the cotton ball with vinegar, apply to the infected cornea, wrap (not too tight! ) With a film. Leave on for 3-3. 5 hours. The total duration of acetic therapy is 2. 5-3 months. Sessions can only be stopped when a new nail plate is fully formed. Even a small amount of leftover infected tissue can cause the disease process to return.
We process nails with iodine-acetic composition
Good results are achieved by treating advanced nail fungus with apple cider vinegar in combination with a 5% alcoholic iodine solution. The components are mixed in equal quantities.
Before processing, the nails should be softened in hot water, cut off the exfoliating parts. The prepared composition is applied with a cotton swab (stick) to the entire affected cornea with careful capture of the lateral edge. Don't forget to lubricate healthy nails with the solution (using another disc) to prevent infection.
The effectiveness of the treatment of nail fungus with iodine in an advanced form has been confirmed by both dermatologists and mycologists. What is the secret of the effectiveness of such a popular (and cheap! ) Method? Iodine is able to coagulate proteins. Parasites that destroy horny plaques have a protein structure and feed on keratin, a fibrillar protein. Therefore, iodine has the ability to "crush" mycosis, directly affecting it.
- Method 1. Twice a day, apply one drop of solution (5%) to the nail plate. Do not neglect even neighboring nails - lubricate them with iodine once a day. Do not forget that the solution gives the nails an unsightly yellowish tint. After 7-10 days, a strong burning sensation will appear in the damaged areas, a sign that the destruction of pathogenic microorganisms has begun. The entire course of treatment lasts 20-40 days. If the sensations are unbearable, treat your nails once a day.
- Method 2. Steam your feet for half an hour in very hot water with the addition of soda (1 tablespoon - 1 liter of water) and salt (twice as much). Bite with tweezers or cut dead areas with scissors, rinse them with clean water, dry them. Cover each affected nail plate (using a cotton swab, cotton swab) with three layers of iodine solution (after the previous one has completely dried). The procedure is carried out before bedtime for 30 days.
The positive dynamics of the treatment of nail fungus in the chronic (neglected) form with iodine is highlighted by the numerous reviews of people who have used this method.
4) Tea tree oil
Before use, make sure you are not allergic to this drug. Apply a little oil on your wrist and leave on for 12 hours.
If there is no irritation, you can safely use it. The whole course lasts two months and involves steaming or direct application. For a bath, add 5 drops of oil per liter of water. The undiluted extract is applied with a cotton swab to the nail surface after steaming the feet in soapy water.
It does not need to be washed off.
5) Essential oils
Did you know that some essential oils are famous for their excellent antifungal properties? For example, if an advanced form of nail fungus is diagnosed, their treatment can be carried out using the following oils:
- Oregano (oregano) is one of the most effective natural antifungal and antibacterial agents. Carvacrol, a component of the oil, is known for its strong bactericidal properties.
- Tea tree - able to cope with bacterial, viral and fungal infections, including chronic mycosis on the toes.
- Lavender - has an antiseptic, antifungal and regenerating effect. The properties are enhanced in combination with tea tree oil extract.
- Carnations - has the substance eugenol, which copes well with fungal parasites, etc.
Let's take a look at how to treat toenail fungus started with oil concentrates:
- Thoroughly wash your feet with laundry soap (tar, fir), wipe dry.
- Apply all diluted essential products (except lavender oil). You can combine them with the following base oils: jojoba, almond, olive.
- The procedures are carried out daily for 2-3 months.
- You can enhance the effect of healing oils by combining them with baths, drug preparations.
- Recipe 1. Combine 100 ml of hot vinegar (9%), 6 drops of tea tree oil, 2 drops of oregano oil. Add the composition to a bowl of warm water. Keep your feet in a healing font for 20 minutes. Please note that the water should wash the ankles.
- Recipe 2. Mix 10 drops of lavender oil, 6 drops of tea tree with 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a dark glass container and shake well. Add 30ml of cold boiled water and shake well again. Lubricate damaged nails with the resulting lotion 3 times a day. Shake well before each use.
- Recipe 3. Measure 2 tbsp. spoons of talc or 2 tbsp. spoons of cornmeal and pour them into a plastic bag. Add 15 drops of lavender oil and 5 drops of mint essential oil. Seal the bag, shake well and leave for a day. Apply not only on infected nails, but also on the whole foot after cleansing baths.
- Recipe 4. Mix 5 drops of lavender and tea tree oil and 1 tbsp. a spoonful of almond oil. Store in dark glass containers. Moisten a cotton ball with an oily "cocktail" three times a day and apply to the affected areas.
Feedback on results after treatment
- First review, female, 46 years old. For a long time I did not know how to cure a fungus on the legs. I tried many folk recipes: compresses with iodine, applied novocaine, lotions made with garlic tincture. I realized that external products weren't right for me and decided to indulge in the luxury of expensive paint. The miracle happened already on the 2nd day: the nail began to light up and a week later the fungus disappeared.
- Second review, male, 34 years old. My onychomycosis was so advanced that the nail plate fell off. The doctor suggested removing it, but I was afraid of a radical procedure and decided to heal the nail myself. I bought a regular ointment at the pharmacy, took salt baths between applications, and the problem began to gradually disappear. After 3 months, the nail was completely renewed.
- Third review, female, 69 years old. After an unsuccessful pedicure in a beauty salon, the toenail began to yellow and crack. I realized from the photo on the Internet that I had collected a mushroom. In the same place, according to reviews, I found an effective ointment online (as it was later confirmed). I applied it 2 or even 3 times a day for a whole month. My nail healed slowly on its own, it didn't even begin to peel off.
One of the most effective means that the fungus is "afraid" of is high-quality prevention.
- It is very important to maintain the normal function of the immune system, which requires proper nutrition (minimum alcohol and coffee, maximum vegetables, proteins) and physical activity. In a weakened body, the infection spreads very quickly.
- You should know and strictly follow the rules of personal hygiene. Those who do so drastically reduce the chance of infection. There is no need to explain why you can't wear someone else's shoes, use personal hygiene products.
- Also, you cannot walk barefoot in swimming pools, saunas, baths, on the beach.
- You need to dry your feet after a shower.
- It is important to know how to disinfect the places where the fungi could theoretically be. In the absence of special antifungal agents, ordinary white can be used for this.
Remember that the manifestation of nail fungus is always much easier to prevent than to get rid of this unpleasant disease later.