The medical term for nail fungus is called Onychomycosis, which causes about 50% of nail abnormalities. Nail fungus is caused when the Tinea Unguium (small organisms) invade the nail bed. Our nail beds have a strong barrier against foreign attack, which makes it a bit difficult to reverse the process once the organisms have penetrated. The longer a person has nail fungus, the more time it will take before the healing process begins.
What happens to the nail when it is penetrated by these organisms is that it starts to discolor. What is seen when the nail starts to discolor is the actual fungus itself. Most often the nail will turn to a yellow or a white-yellow color and start to develop crumbling on the edges of the nail. For most, this can be discomforting or unsightly when wearing open toe shoes or sandals.
Nail fungus thrives in damp, warm, humid and dark areas. Seeing that a good percentage of us wear non-breathable leather shoes with inefficient socks all day make for a perfect breeding ground for fungus. Normally, nail fungal infections are cured by proper hygiene including medication.
There are over the counter medications that will help heal the nail, but patience and persistence is a must because as stated before, the longer that a person has had nail fungal infection, the longer it is going to take to cure. This is why it is so important to catch any form of nail abnormality in the beginning stages and treat at once.
Both fingers and toenails are susceptible to infection, but the most common are toenails. Between 6% and 8% suffer from some sort of nail fungal infection which is more than 35 million people.