What is Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis (also known as "Dermatophytic onychomycosis," "Ringworm of the nail," It is the most common disease of the nails and constitutes about a half of all nail abnormalities.

This condition may affect toenails or fingernails, but toenail infections are particularly common. The prevalence of onychomycosis is about 6-8% in the adult population. 

Risk factors for onychomycosis include family history, increasing age, poor health, prior trauma, warm climate, participation in fitness activities, immunosuppression (eg, HIV, drug induced), communal bathing, and occlusive footwear.

There are four classic types of onychomycosis:

Distal subungual onychomycosis: The most common form of ''tinea unguium'' usually caused by ''Trichophyton rubrum'', which invades the nail bed and the underside of the nail plate.

White superficial onychomycosis: Caused by fungal invasion of the superficial layers of the nail plate to form "white islands" on the plate. Accounts for only 10 percent of onychomycosis cases.

Proximal subungual onychomycosis: Fungal penetration of the newly formed nail plate through the proximal nail fold. It is the least common form of ''tinea unguium'' in healthy people but found more commonly when the patient is immunocompromised.

Candidal onychomycosis: Candida species invade fingernails usually occurring in persons who frequently immerse their hands in water. This normally requires the prior damage of the nail by infection or trauma.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014

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