Fungus (mycosis) of the skin and nails: symptoms, diagnosis, prevention

In many people, the nails and skin are affected by the fungus, which does not look very beautiful. It is important to understand that this is not only an aesthetic, but primarily a medical problem.

fungus on the skin of the feet

In some cases, fungal skin lesions can be a harbinger of serious diseases, such as diabetes. Do not start the disease, because the treatment process on average takes a year or more.

How can you get skin and nail fungus?

More than 40 species of various parasitic fungi (dermatophytes) are known that can affect the skin and nails. The most common are representatives of the genera Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. For growth and reproduction, they use a special substrate - keratin, which consists of the upper layer of the skin (epidermis), hair and nails. Penetrating into the epidermis or the nail plate, the fungus is fixed there, begins to grow and multiply.

You can get infected from a sick person, through objects (towels, wooden shelves in a bathhouse, sauna, rugs, benches in public pools, manicure / pedicure tools) and contact with soil if you like to walk barefoot in nature.

At-risk groups

The most common types of fungal diseases include mycosis of the skin of the feet and onychomycosis of the nail plates. From the moment of infection to the appearance of the first clinical symptoms, it takes from several weeks to several months.

More often than others, men suffer from fungal diseases. Among women, those who constantly wear pointed shoes, especially high heels, are more likely to develop the disease. In this case, the toes are constantly flattened, which leads to friction, small wounds, abrasions, which are the entrance gate for infection.

You can also "catch" a fungus in a regular beauty salon during a pedicure procedure if the master used improperly processed tools. To remove spores and fragments of fungi from the metal surfaces of nippers, scissors and tweezers, the tools must be sterilized in a dry-heat cabinet. Not all salons have such equipment, therefore they are limited to "soaking" in a disinfectant solution and "drying" in ultraviolet boxes. This treatment does not fully protect against infection.

Frequent accession of a fungal infection can signal the development of diabetes. According to statistics, diabetics are three times more susceptible to mycosis. The fungus can also appear with allergic skin lesions (itching, inflammation, weeping), combing insect bites, while taking antibacterial drugs, corticosteroid hormones, antidepressants.

Symptoms of athlete's foot

  • Dry skin, cracks, peeling in the interdigital folds.
  • Itching.
  • Hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin of the feet).
  • Enlargement of lesions.
  • In some cases, a staphylococcal infection joins the fungal infection, which is quite difficult to cure.

Symptoms of onychomycosis (nail fungus)

Among all nail diseases, onychomycosis accounts for up to 40%. Dermatophytes account for up to 90% of all fungal nail infections. The most common pathogens are fungi of the genus Trichophyton.

The appearance of the fungus in this case may be preceded by injury to the nail or constant softening of the nail plate due to high humidity. This, for example, is possible when wearing the same pair of shoes / sneakers every day.

As the infection progresses, the color of the nail changes - part of the nail becomes yellow, grayish or whitish. Over time, the spot grows, and the nail itself thickens - the development of subungual hyperkeratosis occurs.

Diagnosis of fungal diseases

For the diagnosis of fungal infections and onychomycosis, special tests for the detection of fungi are used. Biomaterial (fragments of hair, nail plates, skin particles) is analyzed under a microscope. If the infection has occurred and the threads of the mycelium (the body of the fungus) are visible, the diagnosis is confirmed.

If microscopic examinations give an ambiguous answer, then a bacteriological examination is carried out - sowing the material on fungi. The test allows not only to identify the infection, but also to determine the sensitivity to antifungal drugs, which is necessary for the selection of effective treatments.

How to protect yourself from fungus

  • Dry your feet after bathing or showering, especially between the toes.
  • If you wear closed shoes, change your socks/socks daily.
  • Change shoes every two or three days, don't wear the same pair every day.
  • Do not walk barefoot in public places (pool, bath, sauna, fitness club).
  • If someone in your family has a fungal disease, provide him with a separate set of towels and linen. Wash them separately at the highest temperature.
  • If you have fungus on the same foot or nails, use two different manicure/pedicure sets to avoid spreading the infection to healthy areas.
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels. "High sugar" reduces the rate of healing of wounds on the skin ("diabetic foot"), which facilitates the access of a fungal infection.

Be healthy!