Causes and Risk Factors of Nail Fungus Infection

Nail fungus infection is one of the most common medical (health) problems, which involve the nails, both fingernails as well as toenails. Although nail fungus infection is not a serious health problem, it can give trouble for long time unless treated appropriately with antifungal antibiotics. For appropriate management and prevention of nail fungus infection it is important to know (understand) the cause of the disease and also to know what the risk factors of infection with nail fungus are so that the disease can be prevented from spread as well as to prevent reinfection.

Causes of nail fungus infection:

Nail fungus infection is essentially caused by microscopic fungus (organism) belonging to a group of fungi called dermatophytes, although sometimes nail fungus infection may be caused by yeasts and molds, which are not dermatophytes group. Dermatophytes live in warm and moist environments (such as swimming pools and showers) and do not need sunlight for their survival and easily infect humans. The infection is generally introduced in the nails through small wound/cut which may be so tiny that it is invisible. The infection becomes symptomatic if nails are continually exposed to warmth and moisture, which is required for growth of fungus.

Toenail infection is much more common than fingernail infection, because toenails are confined to dark, moist and warm environment inside shoes, which is ideal for growth of fungus. The blood circulation of toenails is also less than fingernails and immune response of body may be less than ideal.

Risk factors of nail fungus infection:

There are several risk factors of nail fungus infection, which include:

  • Old age. At old age blood circulation to nails diminishes and also exposure to fungus is longer. At old age nails grow slowly and may become thick.
  • If work in humid and moist environment for long duration.
  • Those who sweat heavily have higher risk of nail fungus infection.
  • Use of socks which do not absorb moisture.
  • If individual suffer from Athlete’s foot.
  • Walking barefoot in damp, moist areas.
  • Minor injury in nail bed which may introduce infection.
  • Diabetes patients are at higher risk of nail fungus infection.

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  • Norman Keeton February 25, 2013 06.06 am

    I have fungus infestion under both thumb nails and a big toe nail. My GP says it is old age ( I am 80) and there is no treatment. Is this correct?

    • admin February 25, 2013 11.31 am

      At any age there is treatment for fungal nail infection. There are several antifungal antibiotics that are useful such as grieseofulvin, terfenadine etc.

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