Onychomycosis is the medical term for fungal infection of the toenails or the fingernails. Risk factors for nail fungus infections include increasing age, a weak immune system, prior trauma, physical activity, public bathing, and airtight footwear.
Nail Fungus Causes
Three main classes of fungi are responsible for nail fungal infections, indicates Medscape: dermatophytes, yeasts, and non-dermatophyte molds. Candida yeast rarely causes nail infection, except in people with a weakened immune system.
Nail Unit Anatomy
Fungi can infect any component of the nail unit, including the nail matrix, nail bed, or nail plate, Medscape indicates. The nail plate (nail body) is the actual nail, and the skin underlying it is the nail bed. The nail rests upon the matrix, which gives rise to the nail root and produces the cells that become the nail plate.
Permanent Nail Removal
Permanent removal methods include phenol, surgical removal, and laser. The phenol procedure involves applying phenol, an acidic chemical, to the nail matrix to destroy the growth cells of the nail, according to California Foot & Ankle Associates.
The nail plate rarely grows back after permanent removal, according to Park Plaza Foot Specialists. After a phenol procedure, the body generates a hardened skin that covers the sensitive nail bed.
Advantages & Drawbacks
The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (Volume 90) reports drawbacks of the phenol procedure, such as possible minor chemical burn, potential trauma to the nail bed, and significant healing time. Advantages include a low risk of post-operative infection, little or no pain, little scarring, and good appearance after complete healing.