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Treating Onychomycosis - Article
ABSTRACT: Onychomycosis accounts for one third of fungal skin infections. Because only about one half of nail dystrophies are caused by fungus, the diagnosis should be confirmed by potassium hydroxide preparation, culture or histology before treatment is started. Newer, more effective antifungal agents have made treating onychomycosis easier. Terbinafine and itraconazole are the therapeutic agents of choice. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not labeled fluconazole for the treatment of onychomycosis, early efficacy data are promising. Continuous oral terbinafine therapy is most effective against dermatophytes, which are responsible for the majority of onychomycosis cases. Intermittent pulse dosing with itraconazole is as safe and effective as short-term continuous therapy but more economical and convenient. With careful monitoring, patients treated with the newer antifungal agents have a good chance of achieving relief from onychomycosis and its complications.
ABSTRACT: Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails that causes discoloration, thickening, and separation from the nail bed. Onychomycosis occurs in 10% of the general population, 20% of persons older than 60 years, and 50% of those older than 70 years. It is caused by a variety of organisms, but most cases are caused by dermatophytes. Accurate diagnosis involves physical and microscopic examination and culture. Histologic evaluation using periodic acid–Schiff staining increases sensitivity for detecting infection. Treatment is aimed at eradication of the causative organism and return to a normal appearance of the nail. Systemic antifungals are the most effective treatment, with meta-analyses showing mycotic cure rates of 76% for terbinafine, 63% for itraconazole with pulse dosing, 59% for itraconazole with continuous dosing, and 48% for fluconazole. Concomitant nail debridement further increases cure rates. Topical therapy with ciclopirox is less effective; it has a failure rate exceeding 60%. Several nonprescription treatments have also been evaluated. Laser and photodynamic therapies show promise based on in-vitro evaluation, but more clinical studies are needed. Despite treatment, the recurrence rate of onychomycosis is 10% to 50% as a result of reinfection or lack of mycotic cure.