Onychomycosis, a type of mycosis that affects the nails, generally of the foot. Find out what it is and our natural remedy to fight it.


Infections of the skin can be divided, depending on the eziology into bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic. Among these, mycoses are included in the list of the most common skin diseases during spring and summer. Among mycoses there is a form that is often wrongly underestimated but which currently affects as many as 7 million Italians: the nail fungus, a pathology that can produce aesthetic, psychological and physical effects to say the least unpleasant.

What is mycosis?

The term mycosis indicates a group of pathologies due to the direct attack of fungi on humans. Fungal infections are among the most common causes of skin diseases. In medical mycology mycoses are generally divided into: cutaneous, subcutaneous and systemic, depending on whether the fungus invades the skin or internal tissues and organs. The skin types are the most common.

The pathogenic fungi that isolate most frequently from lesions of the skin or skin appendages (hair and nails) belong to the group of dermatophytes (keratinophilic and keratinolytic fungi) and the pathology for which they are responsible is indicated with the term dermatophytosis. The cutaneous mycoses caused by fungi not belonging to the dermatophyte group are called dermatomycoses. It is however to be specified that even yeasts can give cutaneous mycoses: for example the yeasts of the genus Candida and Malassezia (1). Dermatophytes include members of the genus Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. Among the most common infections are tinea pedis, onychomycosis and candidiasis (2).

What is Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis accounts for more than 50% of nail disorders, affecting approximately 6.5 million Italians between the ages of 40 and 60 and mainly affects toenails.

Onychomycosis is defined as any fungal nail infection, frequently caused by dermatophytes but can also be caused by mold and Candida. The infection is established due to the penetration of the fungi into the space between the nail plate and the nail bed (ie the part on which the nail rests).

Usually, hot and humidity present in the shoes favor the proliferation of mycosis. The fungus responsible for the infection penetrates through cracks and micro-fissures of the nail, breaks down the keratin layer that makes it up and transforms the pH from acid to alkaline. It follows a variation of shape, tonality and consistency of the nail.

There are different types of onychomycosis:

  • the affected nail appears dull and thickened along the margin, without or with modest deformation; generally, yellow debris accumulates under the free margin (3). This condition, known as disto-lateral subungual onychomycosis, is almost always a dermatophytosis.
  • when the fungal infection extends to the entire nail, this becomes fragile and the presence of subungual debris causes a painful deformation; this condition is called total dystrophic onychomycosis.
  • rarely, when the infection originates in the matrix, below the nail, we speak of proximal subungual onychomycosis.

How to recognize onicomycosis: the symtoms

The symptoms of nail fungus, or onychomycosis in general, include:

  • an increase in the fragility and friability of the affected nail;
  • the deformation of the nail;
  • the opaque sheet with different colors inside;
  • an inflammation of the tissues close to the nail;
  • the infected nails can also lift and detach from the nail bed (onychosis), cause pain, emit odor.

The dermatologist makes the diagnosis. Generally, onychomycosis turns out to be a problem of little importance, since it can be treated easily if recognized in a hurry. However, the presence of an onychomycosis can be the manifestation of an underlying pathology, for example a peripheral vascular disease, diabetes or immunodeficiency (3). In some patients, the nail surface appears white, powdery (superficial white onychomycosis).

How to prevent onychomycosis on the feet?

To prevent the development of nail fungus and reduce the risk of recurrent infections, good foot hygiene is essential:

  • keep your feet as dry and clean as possible, avoiding very hot and humid places, especially if attended by more than one person (such as gym and pool changing rooms);
  • keep the nails short, dry and clean;
  • wear socks that allow the feet to breathe and change them often, especially if the feet tend to sweat excessively: when possible, alternate closed shoes with open shoes;
  • do not cut the “cuticles” around the nails (in order not to facilitate the access of the germs);
  • do not walk barefoot in the changing rooms and showers of gyms and swimming pools, always wear slippers in the pool until you reach the pool;
  • wash your hands well after touching an infected nail.

How to apply antifungal treatment

You apply a few drops of Mycosis Treatment1 without placing the pipette on the affected part and spread with a cotton swab; immediately afterwards apply a few drops of Mycosis2 Treatment without placing the pipette on the affected part and continue with the cotton swab. Apply the two compounds 2-3 times a day. Following application, leave the foot uncovered and allow the product to absorb. In case it is not possible: cover the nail with a garzina before putting on the stocking.

Dr. Laura Comollo

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  • (1) Dermatomicosi, Di Stefano Veraldi, Henry Harak, Agostino Persi, 2017
  • (2) Manuale di Fitoterapia, Capasso, 2006
  • (3) Roberts DT et al. Guidelines for treatment of onychomycosis. Br J Dermatol 2003; 148: 402-10
  • (4) Il grande libro dell’Aromaterapia, M. Valussi.

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