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What is Onychomycosis and what causes it?

Onychomycosis is also known as nail mycosis, mold or fungal infections. The condition can be caused by many fungi which attack nails – Trichophytons and Candida are common species. The pathogen attacks the nail plate, usually from skin already affected, and the fungal cells destroy the nail keratin. Immunity plays a major role in this infection.

The condition often starts from the nail edge, or from the area of hyponychium, and progresses toward the cuticle, nail matrix, and nail bed. The fungal infection destroys the nail keratin and specific symptoms appear in the form of delamination, onychoschizia, colour changes and hyperkeratosis, causing the nail plate to become fragile. When the infection reaches the nail bed, the fungi use the ridges as paths to the matrix.

A serious sign of systemic fungal infection is when the condition moves its way from the cuticle side towards the nail edge; clients should be advised to see a doctor immediately if this occurs. If the surrounding soft tissues become swollen, red or itchy, Candida albicans is likely causing the mycosis and suggests immunity has been compromised.

Who does it affect?

Anyone, especially those with immunocompromised conditions.

How can nail technicians help?

The condition can be cured completely and successfully, but usually, the treatment is complex and takes months to be completed. Only medical providers can treat the fungal infections and prescribe topical or oral treatments.

There are lots of fungal infections and types of onychomycosis where nail care is strongly prohibited until the condition is completely treated. If the client presents the nail technician with written medical consent from a doctor stating a manicure or pedicure can be carried out then this can occur.

In other cases where the condition is yet to be diagnosed, the nail technician should inform the client of suspicious symptoms, and advise them to seek medical advice. All the artificial enhancements should be avoided.

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