By Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Consultant Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre
Do I have nail fungus?
Nail fungus presents as discolored, thickened, cracked or broken parts of the nail. It can affect one or many nails, fingernails and toenails are equally susceptible. People who are constantly exposed to wet work, like washing, as well as people with diabetes or chronic illnesses are more prone to getting fungus. There are other causes of abnormal nails such as psoriasis, eczema, trauma and nutritional deficiencies which must be diagnosed and evaluated by a qualified dermatologist.
Will manicures and pedicures help?
Manicures and pedicures do not help nail fungus, on the contrary they could be the cause of introducing bacterial and fungus infections if instruments and containers used are not properly sterilised. In addition, many buffing and practices of “cleaning out” and shaping nails are not necessary for nail health and may instead cause damage to the nail cuticle, which is a natural protector against nail infections. For beautiful healthy nails, good health and nutrition is essential, any abnormal looking nails should be evaluated and treated by a dermatologist. Several treatments are available depending on the underlying cause.
What to do?
If you have such symptoms promptly seek the care of a dermatologist who will evaluate the cause of the nail abnormalities and treat it appropriately, so as to get the best chance of recovery to a healthy nails!
Can my nail be normal again?
Nails grow at a much slower pace than hair. Fingernails grow at a rate of about 3mm per month, taking about 4-6 months to fully regrow a lost fingernail, and about 1 year for toenails. This is also the case for abnormal nails caused by disease. Hence, it is of utmost importance to get early correct diagnosis and treatment by a dermatologist to have a best chance of recovery.
The longer the nail remains abnormal without any specialist treatment, the harder it is for it to gain complete recovery even with medical treatment.
What treatments are available?
Depending on the diagnosis, various treatments in the form of creams, lotions, oral medications and laser therapies. Fungal infections when confirmed with laboratory tests usually require treatment with oral antifungal medications.
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