In its simplest definition onychomycosis is the scientific name for a fingernail or toenail that has been infected with a fungal outbreak by dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are fungal spores that live on the chemical ‘keratin’ that lays in fingernails and dead skin. Though it can occur in the fingernail onychomycosis is said to be more common in the toenail. As gross as it seems nail fungus is actually quite common with studies suggesting that 14% of the US and Canadian population suffer from the condition. Depending on the cause of nail fungus and how severe the outbreak is onychomycosis could have a number of different effects on your toenails. For the sake of education we have listed the subtypes of this disease and the different fungi that cause it. Any person with nail fungus can benefit from knowing what specific type of nail fungus they may have and how this disease works its way into the nail bed. Before studying the types of onychomycosis please note that it could be possible for people to suffer from many types of nail fungus.
Distal and lateral subungual onychomycosis is said to be the most common variety of onychomycosis. Distal means away from the point it originated, lateral means at the sides and subungual means beneath the toenail. This type of onychomycosis lays beneath the toenail and along its side attacking both the nail and the skin beneath. At this stage the fungus is usually confined to the biggest toe but it could spread or even originate at another nail.
Superficial onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail surface. As superficial onychomycosis develops fungal spores can begin to dig into the layers of the toenail or fingernail. This may be marked by white lesions or streaks on the top of the nail. This is believed to be caused by the dermatophyte “T. mentagrophytes.” which is one of the most common types of ringworm.
Proximal subungual onychomycosis is similar to distal onychomycosis but originates from the center of the nail. Once it develops proximal subungual onychomycosis can begin to spread distally or away from the center. T. rubrum is said to be the most popular cause of this in the United States.
Endonyx Onychomycosis does not attack the nail bed but instead clings solely to the underside of the nail plate, giving it a milky white color. In this type of Onychomycosis the toenail doesn’t raise from the bed and the shape and texture do not change. This fungus, called Trichophyton Soudanense, usually has a strong liking to the keratin in the toenail and can mostly grow there.
Totally dystrophic onychomycosis is when distal, lateral or proximal subungual onychomycosis reaches the stage where the toenail begins to raise. The dead skin and microscopic bits of nail begin to develop on the underside, and a brown color can begin to show. As the nail bed raises it can become painful and may even cause permanent damage to your nails.
There are other types of onychomycosis, even though they may be uncommon. One type can be caused by candida, which is a type of yeast, and there is even another variety caused by a melanin producing mold that makes blackish blotches appear under the nail. Now that you know the different types of toenail fungus you have that much more knowledge on how to catch onychomycosis at its earliest stages.