Classifications of Toenail Fungus Infections
Toenail fungus, also known as Onychomycosis or ringworm of the nail, is a fungal infection that occurs in one or more of your toenails. This infection usually begins with a white or yellowish spot just beneath the toenail tip that slowly spreads to the rest of the toe. The deeper the fungus penetrates, the more the toenail becomes discolored. As this condition worsens, the nail begins to thicken and get crumbling edges which aside from being unsightly are soon going to become painful.
Nails with this disorder are usually somewhat yellowish and in extreme cases a dark yet goldenish brown. They are also upturned and sometimes curve inwards causing a lot of pain as they dig into the flesh beneath the nail. The fungus that attacks the toenails thrives in the dark moist conditions provided by the insides of shoes.
There are different kinds of fungus that attack toe nails and feed on keratin. These different fungi bring about the four different classifications of this disease.
White superficial onychomycosis or WSO; this condition occurs when the fungus attacks the superficial layer of the nail plate. Many times, this condition is mistaken for keratin granules which is not fungal an infection but the nails reaction to nail polish. Some nail polish reacts with the nail to form a white flaky and chalky appearance that is similar in appearance to a fungal infection of the toe nail. The only way to accurately distinguish the two is by conducting a laboratory test before any diagnosis and treatment.
Proximal subungual onychomycosis; in this case of toenail fungal infections, the fungus infects and penetrates the newly formed nail plate. The fungi make its way to the nail plate via the proximal nail fold. It is caused by a rare kind of toe nail fungus and hence one of the least diagnosed. This kind of toenail fungus is rarely diagnosed in healthy people but is found to commonly occur in people with lower immunity levels.
Distal subungual onychomycosis; this kind of toe nail fungus is the most common worldwide. It is evident in over 20 percent of working adults the world over. It is caused by a fungus called trichophyton rubrum. This fungus like all other fungi thrives in dark moist conditions of the shoe. It attacks the lower side of the nail called the nail bed and the under side of the nail plate.
Candidial onychymicosis; this kind of nail fungus infection rarely occurs in the toe nails except in swimmers and fishermen. It is most adverse in fingernails. This kind of fungus called candida affects the fingernails of people who frequently immerse their hands in water. It also requires that the person’s fingernails be already damaged by trauma or any other kind of injury for it to take effect. People whose job requires them to frequently immerse their hands in water are advised to wear protective gloves as they work.
The easiest known preventive measure against toenail fungal infections is to make sure that your feet are exposed to enough air and sunlight on a daily basis especially for working adults.