How do I recognize nail fungus in my child?
Can I treat it without consulting a doctor?
If your child has a white or yellowish discoloration of a nail that may already have thickened and looked different from the rest of the nails, it could be nail fungus.
Usually, a body with an intact immune system can fight off the nail fungus pathogen.
Sometimes, under certain conditions, the fungi do penetrate the skin and establish themselves. Not only can they cause nail fungus, but they can also lead to athlete’s foot.
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Can children also get nail fungus?
Nail fungus can not only affect an adult. The fungal pathogen can also affect children and spread to tiny nails. Nail mycosis in children should not be underestimated.
Treatment should always be clarified with the pediatrician because infection with nail fungus in children, toddlers, and babies is not a case for self-medication.
Step 1: Removal of the thickened nail mass
Step 2: External treatment with antifungal agents
Step 3: Internal therapy with antifungal drugs
The first step is only necessary if the child’s nail has already thickened.
The urea only softens the diseased part of the nail and can then be removed. This step usually takes about two weeks.
If the toenail has been decomposed by the fungus and is not cornified, there is no need to remove excess nail mass.
Then step 1 is omitted and the treatment can be started with the second step.
In the second step, the nails are treated daily and regularly with fungicides.
Care must be taken to ensure that the cream does not get into the child’s mouth under any circumstances.
The average duration of use in children, as in adults, is four weeks. However, healing is not guaranteed afterward.
Fungal nail polishes are not approved for children, toddlers, and babies.
The third treatment step only occurs when the nail fungal infection has progressed too far and external therapy does not succeed.
Since many tablets are not approved for children, the pediatrician must decide based on a risk-benefit analysis.
Nail fungus in babies is treated with the same means as in children and toddlers.
The treatment must be supervised by a doctor, who can also be consulted if you have any further questions. Further information can also be found in the package insert.
Causes and risk factors for nail fungus in children
The nail fungus infection, also known medically as nail mycosis or onychomycosis, is a contagious disease with a fungus. Filamentous fungi (med .: dermatophytes) are often responsible for the condition, more rarely also yeast or mold.
The fungi can spread through a smear infection on infected skin flakes on the floor or through direct contact with sick people.
If you are not careful, you will often get infected barefoot in places such as a hotel or sauna.
The risk factors include:
- Public facilities
- Own home
- Sturdy, tight shoes
- Weak immune system
- Chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus)
Children can quickly become infected with nail fungus while doing sports in public facilities such as the swimming pool or the changing room. There are often perfect conditions for fungal growth.
The fungal nail pathogen prefers moisture and warmth for its growth. Therefore, the little ones should never walk without bathing shoes to minimize the risk.
In addition to public places, children can also get infected at home. Suppose a family member is already sick with nail fungus and walks home without shoes and socks. In that case, it spreads the flakes of skin contaminated with the pathogen.
The floor in your bathroom is the most significant risk, as the damp subsoil provides suitable conditions for the fungus to survive.
Especially the age of the toddlers poses a risk through curiosity and exploration. It is quickly transmitted if the little ones try on the adults’ shoes and nail fungus lurks in them.
The child can quickly become infected with the grandparents too. Older people are more likely to get nail fungus due to poor blood circulation.
Many grandparents suffer from it and spread the pathogen in their own four walls. When the grandchildren come to visit, an infection with nail fungus is not long in coming.
An untreated athlete’s foot can also lead to nail fungus over time.
If the children play sports often and run and sweat a lot in sturdy sneakers, they also give the fungus an excellent opportunity to establish itself.
Dancing, tennis, or soccer puts enormous strain on the feet. Due to micro-injuries on the skin of the toes, the nail fungus penetrates the upper layers of the skin and slowly spreads.
Another risk factor is a weak immune system. If children have a weakened immune system or are affected by diabetes mellitus, it is easier for them to get infected by nail fungus.
Hence, health plays a massive role in preventing diseases such as nail fungus.
Left untreated, the fungus can be applied to the whole body spread. It could infect other nails and migrate to the feet, hands, and the skin on the head and cause a fungal skin infection.
Treating nail fungus in children, toddlers, and babies
The type of treatment for a child with nail fungus always depends on the type and extent of the disease.
It is essential to see the pediatrician as soon as possible. Nail fungus in children as well as in toddlers and babies is not a case for self-medication.
Since nail fungus in children is not only a cosmetic problem of the nails and cannot heal on its own, treatment should be carried out.
There are various antifungal drugs available in pharmacies for external use, which kills the fungus.
In addition to the non-prescription products for external use of the nails, there is also internal therapy with tablets or capsules.
If the infection is very advanced, doctors usually have no choice but to prescribe additional tablets for the child or toddler.
Course of treatment
The doctor makes the diagnosis and then selects the appropriate treatment.
If the pediatrician decides that the parents can treat the child themselves, self-medication from home is possible.
Nail fungus: protect children with simple tips
To not let things get that far in the first place, there are a few tips that can be easily implemented in everyday life. In this way, you can protect the little ones from a fungal nail infection and, above all, from the lengthy treatment of the nails.
- Shoes should be disinfected: fungal spores can survive in shoes for up to 6 months!
- Do not let children play barefoot in public places.
- The grandparents only let the children run with stockings or shoes.
- Balanced nutrition for a robust immune system and good health.
- Always dry or blow-dry children’s feet properly after bathing.
- Buy suitable, not too tight shoes for children.
- Wash socks and towels at 60 ° C to kill any fungal spores.
- Do not share clothing with others.
- Treat any athlete’s foot quickly.