Fungal Infections

Fungal Nail Infections

Fungal nail infection is a common condition that starts out as a yellow or white spot under the tip of your toenail or fingernail (fungal infections are less common in fingernails but still possible). As the infection goes deeper it causes your nail to thicken, discolour, and crumble around the edges; it may affect multiple nails.

If your condition is mild and does not bother you there’s a chance you won’t need treatment. If you are experiencing pain and your nails are thickened medications and self-care steps may be helpful. If treatment is successful, nail fungus may come back.

The following are all symptoms of nail fungus that will appear on your nail(s): whitish, to yellow-brown discolouration, distorted in shape, thickened nails, smelling slightly foul, a dark colour caused by under-nail debris building up.

You may have an increased risk of fungal infection if you possess any of the following risk factors: heavy sweating, being older, walking barefoot in damp communal areas, having a minor skin/nail condition or injury, having diabetes, having a history of athlete’s foot.

Often you will be able to take care of a fungal nail infection at home. You can trim and thin your nails to help reduce pain and help an antifungal treatment reach deeper layers of the nail and be more effective. You can also try over-the-counter antifungal ointments and nail creams.

Your doctor could also prescribe an antifungal drug that you either take orally or apply topically, it helps to combine topical and oral therapies. Oral drugs are often the first choice because they clear the infection more quickly. You can also get medicated nail polish or nail cream to apply directly to the nail. With any of these treatment options it can take as long as 4 months to be completely rid of an infection.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection usually beginning between the toes. It is usually present in people who’s feet have become sweaty while confined to tight fitting shoes. It is closely related to other fungal infections and can be treated with over-the-counter medications but the infection will likely recur. Prescription strength medications are also available.

The symptoms of athlete’s foot are a scaly rash which generally begins between the toes. It is highly contagious and can spread to both feet or your hand if you frequently touch or pick at your feet. It can also spread easily between people via contaminated clothing, floors, or towels.  Some kinds of athlete’s foot can feature ulcers or blisters, there is a variety called moccasin that causes scaling and dryness on the soles that extends up the side of the foot.

You are more likely to get athlete’s foot if you: frequently wear damp socks or tight fitting shoes, are a man, walk barefoot in public, share rugs, mats, bed linens, shoes or clothes with someone who has a fungal infection.

You can help prevent or ease the symptoms of athlete’s foot by: changing your socks regularly, alternate pairs of shoes, keep your feet dry, wear light and well-ventilated shoes, don’t share shoes, and protect your feet in public places. If you have mild athlete’s feet your doctor could recommend an over-the-counter antifungal lotions, spray, ointment or powder. If your athlete’s foot is resistant you could need a prescription-strength medication with severe infections possibly requiring oral medications.

Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections are a kind of fungal infection that causes discharge, itchiness and irritation of the vagina and vulva (the tissues right at the vaginal opening). Yeast infections affect 3 of every 4 women with many women experiencing at least 2 episodes.

Medications are used to treat yeast infections frequently, if you have recurrent infections (four or more within a year) you may need an extended treatment plan and a maintenance plan. Symptoms of yeast infections vary from mild to moderate and include the following: redness and soreness of the vulva, itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva, vaginal rash, soreness, and pain, redness and swelling of the vulva, vaginal pain, watery virginal discharge, and thick white vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance.

You could have a complicated yeast infection if you: have 4 or more yeast infections in a year, are pregnant, have uncontrolled diabetes, have severe signs and symptoms such as swelling and itching that can lead to cracks, sores, and tears, or extensive redness, have a weakened immune system is weak because of medical conditions or certain medications, have uncontrolled diabetes.

Yeast infections are caused by an imbalance in the mix of yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Certain bacteria prevent an overgrowth of yeast, unless the balance is disrupted. This can happen because of:  pregnancy, antibiotic use, impared immune system, uncontrolled diabetes, oral contraceptives that increase estrogen levels.

You can reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections by wearing underwear that’s properly sized and has a cotton crotch. You can also avoid: douching which upsets your bacterial balance, tight fitting nylons, hot baths and hot tubs, scented feminine products, staying in wet clothing for long periods of time, unnecessary antibiotic use.

Treatment for a yeast infection will depend on the frequency and severity of your infections. For mild to moderate infections and infrequent episodes your doctor may suggest: single-dose oral medication or short-course vaginal therapy. If you have severe symptoms or frequent yeast infections your doctor may prescribe, multidose oral medication, azole resident therapy, or long-course vaginal therapy.