In order to notice pathological changes in the condition of the nails and skin of the feet in time and begin treatment as soon as possible, it is important to know what the nail plate fungus looks like. The sooner measures are taken to eliminate the disease, the more likely it is that it will be possible to prevent the destruction of the nail plate and restore its normal appearance. Discover how the fungus manifests itself in different phases and what are the characteristics of the course of this disease.
What does onychomycosis look like?
To understand that the nail plates have become infected with a fungal infection (onychomycosis), you need to know what healthy nails look like. Under normal conditions, the nails are smooth, pale pink horny plates, smooth, without dents, protrusions or delaminations. Healthy nails are strong and elastic, not thickened. But a change in its appearance can signal many pathological processes in the body, therefore it is necessary to identify specific symptoms inherent in onychomycosis. They may vary depending on the form of the disease.
- Normotrophic.This is the initial stage of nail fungus. The horny plates change color, yellowish and white spots and stripes appear, as well as an unpleasant odor. This is the initial stage of the disease, so the nail maintains its normal thickness and relatively healthy appearance. This phase begins to appear at the end of the incubation period.
- Hypertrophic:the color changes even more, the plates begin to thicken and the shine disappears. A change in shape and partial destruction of the plaque along the edges can be observed.
- Atrophic:the affected nail is separated from the nail bed.
Another classification also depends on the appearance of the nail fungus. It involves dividing the infection into several types depending on which part of the nail is affected by the fungus:
- Distal.There is delamination and yellowing of the edge of the plate, keratinization of the nail bed. In some cases, the nail can be completely affected and its root (matrix) can also become infected. Plate thinning may occur.
- Surface.The fungus reaches the upper part of the horny plate, causing the appearance of white stripes and spots that turn yellow and increase in size over time. They can be easily removed by scraping. The board has a loose structure. This variety is specific: this is how nail fungus manifests itself.
- Proximal.The fungus occurs under the nail, causing damage to the matrix and tissues surrounding the plate. Cuticle rejection may occur. Deep grooves and irregularities appear on the nails.
- Total.The nails acquire a grayish-yellow hue, become very thick and peel. The plate suffers total or partial destruction.
Fungus on the skin of the feet
Often, toenail fungus spreads to the skin of the feet. What does foot skin fungus look like?
In the early stages, the infection manifests itself in the form of redness and swelling of the skin, as well as the appearance of small cracks.
Most of the time, changes can be noticed between the toes and heels.
The next symptom of foot mycosis is the appearance of spots on the skin, which soon begin to itch and peel. Over time, the size of these spots increases, involving an increasingly larger area of skin in the fungal process. There is an unpleasant odor from your feet even if you don't wear shoes. If treated incorrectly or prematurely, foot fungus can develop into an extensive form, in which deep fissures form at the base of the toes and between them, the arch of the foot and the heels. Furthermore, this phase is characterized by strong separation of the skin.
Diagnosis of fungal nail infections
Anyone far from medicine can suspect a fungal infection of the nails or feet if they have at least a vague understanding of this disease. However, only a qualified specialist can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe adequate treatment based on an external examination, a patient survey and data from studies of the affected nail under a microscope. In this case, you need to contact a dermatologist.
To determine whether a patient actually has a fungal infection, a scraping of the affected nail is taken in a laboratory and, after placing the material in an alkaline environment, it is examined under a microscope for the presence of fungal mycelium. If such a specific structure is discovered, the diagnosis will be absolutely confirmed. Additional studies may be prescribed to determine the specific type of fungus, which is necessary to select the most effective medications against the infection.
Nail fungus not only spoils the appearance of hands and feet, but can also lead to unpleasant consequences, including the complete loss of nail plates and the penetration of a fungal infection into the body. Furthermore, onychomycosis and foot fungus are contagious diseases, so at the first symptoms it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible to protect your loved ones. The incubation period of the fungus can last several weeks, so the disease does not appear immediately. The sooner you seek help from a specialist and accurately diagnose the disease, the faster the treatment will be and the less money you will have to spend on expensive medicines with antifungal action.