Woman receiving laser treatment on her feet for the treatment of a mild fungal infection in the toenails known as onychomycosis, or to rejuvenate the skin for summer

Image Source: Getty / danr13

  • Nail fungus and nail discoloration can current themselves equally, however they aren’t the similar.
  • The distinction usually lies in the root trigger, which can name for medical experience.
  • One is an an infection, whereas the different may be resulting from an underlying well being situation.

We’ll simply come proper out and say it: a few of us have been responsible of leaving our nail polish on far too long. More usually than not, when that polish is then removed, we uncover that what’s hiding beneath is not all the time a reasonably sight. If you can also relate, you then’re in all probability acquainted with the sheer panic that is usually accompanied by seeing a discolored toenail (or a number of).

There are a number of potential causes that might be inflicting discoloration, and not all of them look the similar. There is likely to be white spots on the nail, for instance, or darkish spots hiding beneath or close to the cuticle space, in addition to yellowing that would point out a potential an infection. Still, there is a distinction between nail fungus and nail discoloration, so should you’re noticing any main modifications by yourself palms or toes, it is in all probability time to be taught the distinction (and make an appointment together with your dermatologist simply to be protected).

To additional assist differentiate between the two, we requested Jennifer Weiss, dermatology doctor assistant at Marmur Medical, to interrupt down all the things it’s best to know beneath.

The Difference Between Nail Fungus and Nail Discoloration

“Nail fungus is a typical an infection of the nails,” Weiss says. “We all have fungus naturally on our nails and our bodies basically, however typically there’s an overgrowth of that fungus, and that’s when you might even see a noticeable change in the look or colour of the nails.” It must be famous, nonetheless, that not all discoloration of the nails is because of fungus.

Nail discoloration, on the different hand, refers to any marks that don’t seem translucent or uniform in colour to the remainder of your nail. In this occasion, they “might look yellow, brown, black, and even inexperienced,” Weiss says. These can pop up anyplace on the nail, both in spots or vertically alongside the nail.

What Causes Nail Fungus and Discoloration?

Like many fungal infections, there are a number of method to develop a nail fungus. Chief amongst them? Excess moisture. “Fungus thrives in heat, moist environments, so nail fungus may be attributable to extreme sweating or strolling barefoot in a heat, moist surroundings like a pool,” Weiss says. “You also can catch it by having direct skin-to-skin contact with somebody who already has a fungal an infection.”

As for the causes of nail discoloration, there might be a bunch of causes wholly unrelated to a fungal an infection that causes the concern. “A brown or black streak on a nail is named melanonychia,” Weiss says. “This ought to all the time be identified by a licensed dermatology supplier as you need to ensure that to rule out one thing extra severe corresponding to a melanoma. Melanonychia is benign and may be attributable to genetics, trauma to the space, treatment use, or being pregnant.” Black discoloration of the nail will also be attributable to dried blood resulting from some kind of trauma — also called a subungual hematoma — so should you’re unsure what might have brought about a black mark in your nail, it is best to err on the facet of warning and pay a go to to a medical supplier.

“Nails that seem inexperienced are most frequently attributable to a micro organism known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa,” Weiss provides. Prolonged publicity to water or soaps and detergents can put somebody at a better danger of growing this bacterial an infection.

How to Tell the Difference Between Nail Fungus and Nail Discoloration

While Weiss would not advocate attempting to self-diagnose at dwelling, there are some tell-tale traits of a nail fungus that may make it simpler to identify. “Nail fungus usually seems as yellow, thickened nails,” she says. If you are still unsure whether or not your nail matches the invoice, contact your dermatologist for additional testing. In some cases, which will imply getting the nail biopsied and examined to make certain.

What Nail Fungus Might Look Like

Nail fungus can present up in several kinds, however a thickened, yellow nail is often a key attribute of nail fungus.

What Nail Discoloration Might Look Like: Subungual Hematoma

How to Treat Nail Fungus and Discoloration

As to be anticipated with any medical situation, many remedy choices for nail fungus embrace prescription-strength treatment. “These embrace prescription antifungal lacquers or, for extra extreme circumstances, an antifungal capsule,” Weiss says. “The capsule entails a three-month course and usually requires blood-work testing initially and midway by the course. When utilizing the lacquer, it is suggested that or not it’s utilized to the affected nail or nails for a complete 12 months.”

There can be an at-home treatment that has been confirmed to assist with treating nail funguses as nicely: Vicks VapoRub. “The substances of thymol, menthol, camphor, and oil of eucalyptus in scientific research have been proven to be efficient,” Weiss says.

For nail discoloration, remedy will depend on the trigger. For instance, Weiss says it’s best to go away the benign melanonychia alone, whereas “melanoma, on the different hand, must be addressed promptly with surgical procedure.” If it’s a regular reason for an damage that bled beneath the nail, the greatest plan of action in that case is to let the dried blood beneath a nail develop out by itself.

However, remedy for pseudomonas, the final typical case of non-fungal-related discoloration, is a little more intensive. “[This treatment] entails taking an oral antibiotic that’s inclined to pseudomonas,” Weiss says. “You also can strive vinegar soaks at dwelling, which entails one-part vinegar and four-parts water, and soak the affected nail or nails in for 10 minutes, twice each day till the an infection is resolved.”

How to Prevent Nail Fungus and Discoloration

“Prevent nail fungus or discoloration from occurring by not strolling barefoot in heat, moist environments,” she says. “It is really helpful to maintain your toes clear and dry, wash them each day with cleaning soap and water — taking particular care to wash in between your toes — and then drying them totally after.” Additional ideas embrace preserving your nails brief and ensuring to sanitize your nail clipper earlier than use.

As all the time, you’ll want to verify together with your physician ought to any regarding discoloration come up.

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