The Link between Candida and Nail Fungus

What Is Candida?

Candidiasis, more commonly known by most people as Candida, is a fungal infection. It is also a systemic infection in the sense that it can spread from one area of the body where the initial infection occurred to various other parts by travelling through the bloodstream. This particular fungal infection can be found in a litany of different body parts, presenting itself with different symptoms and causing different problems in each particular case. One instance of Candida can spread to the toe or finger nails, causing a type of onychomycosis or nail fungus.

Candida can cause a lot of health problems and some of them can be very serious. This is mostly due to the fact that it can stay for a long time in a person’s body before it gets detected and during that time the infection can spread. It is also quite difficult to treat since it must be eradicated completely otherwise it will simply spread again in time.

Can Candida Lead to Nail Fungus?

Candida can travel through the bloodstream and infect all parts of the body. This can lead to common problems such as vaginal infections or thrush in the mouth, but it can also cause one other common fungal infection which usually is blamed on another fungus altogether: toenail infections. There are four different types of fungal infections which can spread to the toenail which are currently recognized by the American Podiatric Medical Association. The first three are caused by dermatophytes and include distal subungal onychomycosis which is the most common type found in people, white superficial onychomycosis, proximal subungal onychomycosis and lastly there is a fourth kind of infection which is caused by Candida. This is the least common type of toenail infection, which is why many people are not aware of it but it is quite common for fingernail infections. While most toenail fungus infections are due to dermatophyte fungi, almost 50% of fingernail fungal infections are caused by candida. If you have symptoms of nail fungus on the fingernails you should be checked by a medical professional for candidal overgrowth. Candidal onychomycosis is also more prevalent in children than adults, especially in children that suffer from a genetic disorder known as chronic mucocutaneous Candidiasis. This disease causes an excessive growth of the Candida fungus to target areas such as the nails, mouth and scalp.

People can look for symptoms in order to determine what kind of toenail infection they have. In the case of the yeast infection, the nail will turn green or yellow and, with time, it will get more opaque. It is possible for the skin which surrounds the nail to have puss and swell up which will cause a lot of discomfort and, in some cases, even serious pain. It is best to start treatment right away otherwise the pain will only get more intense as the infection progresses. The nail will continue to get thicker if left untreated and during more advanced stages the nail plate can detach completely from the nail bed which is called onycholysis. The sooner treatment with an effective agent like Toenail Fungus Treatment occurs, the greater probability of a successful cure before there is significant damage to the nail or surrounding tissue.

How Do People Get Candida?

Candida is already present in the human body. It is a fungus which occurs naturally and it actually helps people with their digestion. However, the medical problem known as Candidiasis comes from an excess growth of the production of this fungus in the body which will then lead to the systemic infection which can cause various health issues.

As a disease, Candidiasis has only been recognized relatively recent so precise and detailed information regarding its causes, treatments and other topics is still a little scarce. However, there are several known causes to this date which have been reviewed and approved by the medical society[1]. The main cause of this excessive fungus growth is antibiotics. They are very efficient at destroying the harmful bacteria which has infected a person’s body, but in doing this it also damages the beneficial one which keeps our bodies in check. This allows microorganisms that can develop and spread fast such as Candida to increase its presence in the body dramatically. Best course of action would be to avoid taking antibiotics when there are other alternatives available. There are plenty of minor medical issues such as a cold which some doctors prescribe antibiotics for but the reality is that they can be easily treated with a lot of different other types of medication.

While antibiotics are the leading cause of Candidiasis, they are by no means alone. The regular diet of a person also contributes heavily. This fungus grows faster if it has access to a sugar rich environment, so people that eat a lot of sugar are more likely to get this infection. Women have an increased risk of contracting nail Candida since they are exposed to one particular cause which men are not: contraceptive pills. Lastly, ingesting chlorine can also have the same effect. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant which can sometimes be found in drinking water and often in swimming pools. Like antibiotics, it destroys the friendly bacteria in the body, allowing other microorganisms to develop at a much faster rate than usual. This is why those active in water sports and people who tend to work with their hands often submerged in water are more likely to be infected with Candidal Onychomycosis or candida of the nail.

How Is Candidiasis of the Nail Treated?

There are several different types of treatment available in order to treat Nail Candida and most of them do not differ significantly from the treatments used for onychomycosis. Oral medication is still the most common form of treatment. Some of the medicine prescribed for toenail fungus includes Lamisil and Sporanox. Each contains particular ingredients which fight off the infection and may be successful at preventing future recurrences. However, they can come with a lot of nasty side effects. In fact, some of them can even be dangerous than the original fungal infection as there has been a link made between Lamisil and liver damage in some people. Treatment of nail fungus with oral medication requires a lengthy use of medication that can be harmful where people also suffer from other medical ailments. This is perhaps most critical in people with candida, considering that they are likely to already have a weakened system, and thus it is recommended to seek alternatives, where possible.

Using antifungal ointments or lacquer is another common choice. One common polish used in this treatment is called Penlac which is applied directly to the top of the nail. The problem with Nail Candida as opposed to other types of toenail fungal infections is the fact that the nail gets thicker and thicker. This can prevent almost all of the medication applied to the toe to not be able to penetrate the nail and reach the infected area. A lot of the times most of the active substance in the medication disperses onto the skin surrounding the infected nail and only a fraction actually gets absorbed by the nail bed. This can lead to various problems such as taking too long for the medication to be effective or it simply not working at all. Almost all topical treatments for nail fungus have this limitation. Unless a comprehensive treatment  with a penetration agent like Keratrate is used to make the nail bed permeable followed with a strong multi-class antifungal drug, it is unlikely that topical treatment will have high success rates in Nail Candidiasis.

There is also the option of using various types of lasers in order to treat the infection. There are a few which have been FDA approved, but their results at this time are still relatively inconclusive since enough studies regarding their efficiency have not yet been performed.

 

References

[1] Kauffman CA. Candidiasis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 359

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