Many people take care of their body aesthetics. Most of them are women, but some men are somehow concerned about the way they look. We try to fix our defects and keep a good appearance, and we take measures in order to do so. But health is beauty, and some conditions may affect the way we look. Our skin, hair and body shape can be affected by several conditions, and that is also the case of our nails.
There are many nail disorders that can affect people. Perhaps one of the most common - or at least, best known - nail issues are due to trauma. Many of us have gone through the painful experience of getting our fingertip caught by a door or window, or the classical toe-against-the-furniture scenario. If the tips of our fingers of toes become injuried, our nails could crack or become tainted with bruises. Nail trauma isn't usually a big problem, because many of these conditions heal by themselves in time. Nails, just like hair, grow and are constantly renewed, wich means that if a nail is injuried due to trauma, a while later new tissue will replace the broken one.
However, not all nail affections are due to physical trauma. Certain diseases can affect them, and change the way they look, along with other symptoms that range from mild uncomfort to life-threatening infections.
Even if there are systemic diseases that affect all the body and can therefore injury your nails - diabetes is one of the best known examples - the most common case of nail conditions are infections that affect specifically this part of our bodies. The most frequent aetiology of nail infections are fungi. Nail conditions caused by fungi are called onychomycosis (from onycho = nail, myco = fungus, and osis = infection or condition).
Altough most fungal infections aren't dangerous for your life or overall health, onychomycosis is unpleasant from an aesthetic point of view as well as very uncomfortable. They tend to spread to your other nails in a short time. There are a few prevention measures that you can take to avoid catching nail fungi. Some of them are well known, like preventive actions you take at public pools. In these cases, there are often specialist doctors or podologists that check everyone's feet before they go to the pool, because fungi can be transmitted through water. They float from one foot to another and can infect many swimmers. The water of these pools is also treated with chlorum to kill fungi, bacteria, algae and other organisms that could cause health issues. Also, public showers are dangerous, because fungi can remain on the wet surface of the stalls and attatch to your feet when you walk in. Showering in rubber sandals could sound ridicculous and useless, but is actually a good way to prevent catching fungi.
However, there are other cases when you can catch nail fungi that are often overlooked. In example, you must be aware of the dangers of nail salons. These places are legally obligated to keep a sanitary status, because fungi as well as other infections are likely to be transmitted. If salons don't keep a good level of hygiene, they can become a serious threat for contamination. Sinks where customers wash their hands and feet, as well as all implements and tools used for manicures, pedicures and other nail treatments, must be discarded after use, or washed and desinfected properly. If these objects are not sanitized, they can be a vehicle for many infections to jump from one pair of feet to another. Always make sure that your nail salon is certified, to avoid catching a nasty fungus that will later be a pain to get rid of.
If prevention hasn't been present, or hasn't been enough, and you find yourself carrying a fungus nail infection, you must get some treatment. There are some natural cures that actually work for nail conditions, so if you are a fan of homemade remedies, or at least want to give them a try, there are a few things that you can do. Essential oil of tea tree is reported to have a possitive effect on nail fungus: apply it topically. Reducing or elliminating sugar from your diet will also help get rid of fungi.
Fungi usually invade the nail matrix, the most effective way to combat them is with oral antifungal drugs. You must first take a mycological examination to identify which type of fungus is present (90% of positive toe culture correspond to dermatophytes) and as a result the most suitable anti fungal shall be indicated.
Always seek for a dermatologist's advice who will identify your condition and will indicate the right treatment.