NAIL DISEASES AND INFECTIONS
The nails that protect the skin and tissue of your fingers and toes are made up of hardened keratin. Keratin is the same protein found in your hair and skin – which is why nail diseases like fungal infections are treated by dermatologists.
Fungal infections may affect the nail and the skin under the nail. They occur more often in toenails because toes are confined in the dark, warm and moist environment that exists inside your shoes. Plus, toes have less blood flow than fingers, which makes it harder for your body’s immune system to find and stop the infection.
The most common symptoms of nail surface fungal infections are:
- White spots or streaks on the nail surface
- Softened nail surface as the infection worsens
- Crumbly nail surface and gray or brown discoloration
Distal fungal infections are different, in that they affect the nail surface and the nail bed, or skin underneath the nail. Distal infections are known by:
- Yellow streaks in the bed of the nail and underneath the nail
- Discoloration and thickening of the affected nail
- Brittle and broken nail
Other microorganisms like yeast and bacteria can infect nails, too, so it’s important to seek the expertise of the Midwest Dermatology team.
Nail Disease Treatment
Midwest Dermatology treats nail infections by tailoring an approach suited for the nature of the infection, and how serious it is. Early on, our dermatologists may take a small sample of the affected nail or scrape a small amount of skin from under the nail and run a culture test on it. Once the type of infection is confirmed, our dermatologists may prescribe:
- Over-the-counter medications for mild infections.
- Oral antifungal medications for moderate to severe cases. These medications come in pill form, and help a new nail grow and replace the infected nail.
- Topical medications that are applied directly to the nail and fight the fungus at the site of the infection.
If you have a bacterial nail infection or both a bacterial and a fungal infection, your dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic medication, as well. Rarely, in the most severe cases, your dermatologist may need to remove an infected nail to treat the infection.
The treatment for nail infections is often lengthy. Patients should be sure to complete the prescribed treatment; otherwise the infections are likely to reappear.