Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
15th National Conference of the IAOMFP, Chennai, 2006
Abstracts from current literature
Acne in India: Guidelines for management - IAA Consensus Document
Art & Psychiatry
Association Activities
Association Notes
Award Article
Book Review
Brief Report
Case Analysis
Case Letter
Case Letters
Case Notes
Case Report
Case Reports
Clinical and Laboratory Investigations
Clinical Article
Clinical Studies
Clinical Study
Conference Oration
Conference Summary
Continuing Medical Education
Cosmetic Dermatology
Current Best Evidence
Current Issue
Current View
Derma Quest
Dermato Surgery
Dermatosurgery Specials
Dispensing Pearl
Do you know?
Drug Dialogues
Editor Speaks
Editorial Remarks
Editorial Report
Editorial Report - 2007
Editorial report for 2004-2005
Fourth All India Conference Programme
From Our Book Shelf
From the Desk of Chief Editor
Get Set for Net
Get set for the net
Guest Article
Guest Editorial
How I Manage?
IADVL Announcement
IADVL Announcements
IJDVL Awards
IJDVL Awards 2018
IJDVL Awards 2019
IJDVL Awards 2020
IJDVL International Awards 2018
Images in Clinical Practice
In Memorium
Inaugural Address
Knowledge From World Contemporaries
Leprosy Section
Letter in Response to Previous Publication
Letter to Editor
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor - Case Letter
Letter to the Editor - Letter in Response to Published Article
Letter to the Editor - Observation Letter
Letter to the Editor - Study Letter
Letter to the Editor - Therapy Letter
Letter to the Editor: Articles in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters in Response to Previous Publication
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor - Letter in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters to the Editor: Case Letters
Letters to the Editor: Letters in Response to Previously Published Articles
Medicolegal Window
Miscellaneous Letter
Net Case
Net case report
Net Image
Net Letter
Net Quiz
Net Study
New Preparations
News & Views
Observation Letter
Observation Letters
Original Article
Original Contributions
Pattern of Skin Diseases
Pediatric Dermatology
Pediatric Rounds
Presedential Address
Presidential Address
Presidents Remarks
Report of chief editor
Report of Hon : Treasurer IADVL
Report of Hon. General Secretary IADVL
Research Methdology
Research Methodology
Resident page
Resident's Page
Resident’s Page
Residents' Corner
Residents' Corner
Residents' Page
Review Article
Review Articles
Revision Corner
Self Assessment Programme
Seminar: Chronic Arsenicosis in India
Seminar: HIV Infection
Short Communication
Short Communications
Short Report
Special Article
Specialty Interface
Study Letter
Study Letters
Symposium - Contact Dermatitis
Symposium - Lasers
Symposium - Pediatric Dermatoses
Symposium - Psoriasis
Symposium - Vesicobullous Disorders
Symposium Aesthetic Surgery
Symposium Dermatopathology
Symposium-Hair Disorders
Symposium-Nails Part I
Symposium-Nails-Part II
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses
Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis
Therapeutic Guideline-IADVL
Therapeutic Guidelines
Therapeutic Guidelines - IADVL
Therapy Letter
Therapy Letters
View Point
What’s new in Dermatology

Translate this page into:

Original Article
PMID: 17656990

Onychomycosis: A significant medical problem

T Madhuri Jesudanam, G Raghu Rama Rao, D Joga Lakshmi, G Ratna Kumari
 Department of Dermatology & Department of Microbiology King George Hospital & Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam, India

Correspondence Address:
G Raghu Rama Rao
Gopal Sodan, 15-12, Nooroji Road, Maharanipeto, Visakhapatnam - 530 002, Andhra Pradesh
How to cite this article:
Jesudanam T M, Rao G R, Lakshmi D J, Kumari G R. Onychomycosis: A significant medical problem. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2002;68:326-329
Copyright: (C)2002 Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology


The importance of onychomycosis is often underestimated. Far more than being a simple cosmetic problem, infected nails serve as a chronic reservoir of infection which can give rise to repeated mycotic infections of the skin.
448 patients with nail abnormalities attending Skin O. P. D of King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam during a 1(one) year period between November'98 - October'99, were subjected to detailed clinical, epidemiological study. Diagnosis was confirmed in 204 cases by direct microscopy or culture or by both.
Females (51. 96%) were slightly more than the males (48. 04%). Majority of the cases were between 21-40 years age group. Housewives (33. 33%) were most frequently affected. Trauma was a predisposing factor in 11. 27% of the cases. The duration of lesions varied from 3 months to 15 years. In the majority (38. 23%) it was less than one year. Candidal onychomycosis was the most prevalent clinical type (58. 82%) followed by distal subungual onychomycosis (38. 72%). Disease was limited only to finger nails in 57. 35% and toe nails in 32. 35%. Ptedominant isolates obtained were condida spp. (56. 7%), followed by dermatophytes (38. 2%) and non-dermatophyte molds (3. 37%). 26. 96% of the patients had experienced physical, psychosocial and occupational problems.
Keywords: Onychomycosis


Onychomycosis accounts for upto 50% of all nails problems. [1],[2] At least 15% to 20% of persons between 40-60 years of age may have this disease. In addition, immunocompromised persons, diabetics, and athletes are also considered to be at risk.

The purpose of this study is to document the incidence, prevalence, contributing factor, associated diseases, the common types and the causative agents of onychomycosis and also to observe the psychosocial and occupational consequences of onychomycosis among patients attending Dermatology outpatient department.

Materials and Methods

During the period between November ′98-October ′99 nail samples were obtained from 448 patients with nail abnormalities from among 21, 373 patients who attended the Dermatology out patient department of King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam (A. P). The affected nails were thoroughly washed with 70% alcohol and the material was collected onto a sterilised paper using a sterile nail cutter or scraper. The samples were subjected to direct microscopy using 20% potassium hydroxide and the remaining material was cultured on Sabouraud′s dextrose agar with and without cycloheximide.

A detailed history of age, sex, occupation, duration of the disease, predisposing factors, associated diseases etc. , were recorded in all cases. Baseline investigations were carried out in all cases, while the diabetic and HIV status was established in all cases which were positive on microscopy or culture or both.


Of the 448 patients with nail abnormalities, the diagnosis was confirmed in 204(45. 53%) by direct microscopy or culture or by both. These 204 patients constituted the study population. ln the present series 192 (94. 12%) patients were from rural areas [Table - 1]. The age of the patients varied from 5-72 years, majority (59. 8%) i. e. 122 out of 204 patients were between 21-40 years of age. 106 (51. 96%) out of the 204 patients were females, while 98(48. 04%) were males [Table - 1]. 98 (48. 04%) had occupations associated with wet work, 44 (21. 57%) had occupations associated with increased physical activity. Housewives formed a predominant group accounting for 33. 33% of the patients [Table - 2]. 19 (9. 31%), 8(3. 92%) and 23 (11. 27%) had a past history of T. pedis, T manuum and trauma respectively [Table - 3] The duration of the disease varied from 3 months to 15 years. More than 1/3rd(38. 23%) of the patients had the disease for less than one years 24(11. 76%) patients had diabetes mellitus and 2 (0. 98%) were tested positive for HIV antibodies. Recurrent episodes of mycotic infections of the skin were tested positive for HIV antibodies. Recurrent episodes of mycotic infections of the skin were recorded in 51 (25%) patients. Fungal infection over other sites of the body were seen in 43 (21. 07%) patients. Finger nails were affected in 117 (57. 35%) patients, toe nails in 66 (32. 35%) patients and both finger and toe nails in 21 (10. 29%) patients. Candidal onychomycosis was the most common clinical type (58. 82%) seen, followed by distal subungual onychomycosis (38. 72%). White superficial onychomycosis was seen in 3 (1. 47%) patients and proximal subungual onychomycosis in 2 (0. 98%) patients. Direct microscopic examination and culture on Sabouraud′s dextrose agar were positive in 190 and 178 cases respectively. The most frequently isolated fungus was candida in 101 (56. 74%) patients, followed by dermatophytes in 68 (38. 20%) patients and non-dermatophyte moulds in 6(3. 37%) patients. Candida species were predominantly isolated from the finger nails (75. 25%), while dermatophytes were isolated more frequently from the toe nails (60. 29%) [Table - 4]. Onychomycosis had a significant negative impact on quality of life, with 55 (26. 96%) patients experiencing physical, psychological, social or occupational problems. 44 (80%) out of these 55 patients had finger nail onychomycosis. Finger nail onychomycosis had a greater impact on the quality of life compared to toe nail onychomycosis [Table - 5].


Onychomycosis is a chronic mycotic infection of finger nails and toe nails that affects the quality of life in a significant proportion. There has been a recent increase in the incidence as well as the spectrum of causative pathogens associated with onychomycosis. This increase in the incidence can be attributed to various factors like an aging population, an ever expanding number of immunocompromised patients and life style practices. [4]

Onychomycosis occurs worldwide. Onychomycosis appears to be a variable entity presenting in different forms in different part of the world with every country and every region of the same country having its own characteristics of presentation. [5] The prevalence of onychomycosis in our hospital based study was 0. 95%. Eleweski, [6] from U. S. A. estimated the prevalence to be between 8-9% of the total population while Evans. [7] and Robert, [8] from United Kingdom reported a prevalence of 5% and 2. 7% respectively in the general population. The fact that not all patients affected by onychomycosis seek medical assistance, can also explain the differences in prevalence of onychomycosis observed worldwide. [5] The commonest age group affected in our study was 21-30 (33. 33%) years followed by 31-40 years (26. 47%). A similar high incidence among 21-30 years age group was reported by Reddy, et al. [9] In contrast, Mercantini, et al, [10] Velez et al, [11] reported a higher prevalence among adults over the age of 50 years. Increased participation in physical activity, increased exposure to wet work, shoe wearing habit among this age group and early marriage leading to new household responsibilities could be some of the contributing factors for the increased prevalence in the 21-30 years age group.

In our study there were more women (51. 96%) than men patients (48. 04%) Mercantini, [10] Lopes, [12] and Bokhari, [13] also reported a higher prevalence of 72. 1%, 62. 7%, 72% respectively among women. In contrast, Reddy, et al[9] reported a higher prevalence among men (68. 9%). Domestic activity involving wet work associated with constant trauma to the nails could probably explain the slightly higher prevalence among women. 48. 04% of our patients had occupations associated with wet work making them more prone to develop candidal paronychia and candidal onychomycosis, while 21. 57% had occupations associated with increased physical activity with trauma facilitating easy entry of fungal pathogens. Finger nails (57. 35%) mainly of the right hand especially the thumb finger (18. 62%) were more frequently involved than toe nails in both sexes. Reddy et al[9] Velez et al[11] Rigopoulos, et al, [5] also reported an increased involvement of the nails. In our country finger nails especially the thumb nails is used as a multipurpose tool for jobs such as peeling vegetables, feeding children etc., making them more prone to injuries and infections. Open foot wear could explain the decreased incidence of toe nail involvement.

Candidal onychomycosis (58.82%) was the predominant clinical type and was seen among those whose occupations involved wet work. Distal subungual onychomycosis was the commonest type. Two out of three patients with superficial white onychomycosis had the habit of wearing shoes regularly, which supports the observations of English[14] that white superficial onychomycosis occurs in the toe nails of predominantly shoe clad population. Both our patients with proximal subungual onychomycosis, a marker for HIV, were tested positive for HIV antibodies. In areas of high HIV endemicity, onychomycosis is often recognised as a marker for HIV infection.[15] Reddy, et al.,[9] and Banerjee et al.,[16] from India reported distal subungual onychomycosis as the commonest type in their respective studies. Higher isolation rate of candida (56.74%) noted in this study was also reported by Achten.[17] AI-sogiar ,[18] Rigopoulos[5] and other workers from different parts of the world. In contrast Reddy,[9] Banerjee[16] from India, reported a higher isolation rate of dermatophytes in their respective studies.

In our study 26.96% of the patients experienced physical (18.62%) psychological (23.52%), social (10.29%) and occupational (5.88%) problems. Lubeck et al.[19] Drake et al.[20] have documented the negative impact of onychomycosis on patients quality of life. The importance of onychomycosis is often underestimated. Although not usually life threatening,onychomycosis can be a source of significant pain and discomfort, it can also pose risk for patients, their families and others in contact with them. Onychomycosis can no longer be considered a simple cosemetic nuisance confined to the nails. It is a significant and important disease which can generate many physical, psychosocial and occupational problems, considerably impairing patients quality of life.

Scher RK. Onychomycosis is more than a cosmetic problem. Br J Dermatol 1994; 130 (suppl 43):15. Andre J, Achten G. Onychomycosis. Int J Dermatol 1987;26:481-490.
[Google Scholar]
Zaias N. Onychomycosis. Dermotol Clin 1985;3:445-460.
[Google Scholar]
Scher RK. Onychomycosis : A significant medical disorder. J Am Acad Dermatol 1996; 35 (3): S2-S5.
[Google Scholar]
Rigopuoulos D, Kotsiboulas V, et al. Epidemiology of onychomycosis in southern Greece. Int J Dermatol 1998;37:925-928.
[Google Scholar]
Eleweski B. Diagnostic techniques for confirming onychomycosis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1996;35:S6-S7.
[Google Scholar]
Evans EGV. Onychomycosis : Challenges for diagnosis: In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Onychomycosis. Florence, Italy 1995 Gardiner Caldwell Communications Ltd. 1996:710.
[Google Scholar]
Roberts DT. Prevalence of dermatophyte onychomycosis in the United Kingdom. Br J Dermatol 1992; 126:23-27.
[Google Scholar]
Reddy BSN, Ramesh V, Singh R. Clinico - mycological study of onychomycosis. Indian J Dermatol Venereal Leprol 1982; 48:145-150.
[Google Scholar]
Mercantini R. et al., Onychomycosis in Rome. Italy. Mycopothologia 1996; 136: 25-30.
[Google Scholar]
Velez A, Linares MJ, Fernandez - Roldan JC, et al Study of onychomycosis in Cordoba, Spain : Prevailing fungi and pattern of infection. Mycopathologia 1997; 137:1-8.
[Google Scholar]
Jorge 0 Lopes, Alves SH, et al. A ten year survey of onychomycosis in the central region of the Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Rev Inst Med Trolp Sao Paulo 1999;41:147-149.
[Google Scholar]
Bokhari MA, Hussain I, Jahangir M, et al. Onychomycosis in Lahore, Pakisthan. IntJ Dermatol 1999;38:591-595.
[Google Scholar]
English MR Nail and fungi : Br J Dermatol 1976;94 : 697 - 701.
[Google Scholar]
Timothy Berger. Treatment strategies for onychomycosis on AIDS patients. In : Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Onychomycosis 1995 : Gardiner - Caldwell communication Ltd.,1996:31-34.
[Google Scholar]
Banerjee U, Sethi M, Pasricha JS. Study of onychomycosis in India. Mycosis 1990;33:411-415.
[Google Scholar]
Acheten G, Wanet RJ. Onychomycosis in the laboratory, Mykosen 1978; 1: 125-127.
[Google Scholar]
Al- Sogair SM, Moawad MK, al- Humaidan YM. Fungal infection as a cause of skin disease in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia prevailing fungi and pattern of infection. Mycoses 1991:34:333-337.
[Google Scholar]
Lubeck P, Partrick DL, McNulty P, et al., Quality of life of persons with onychomycosis.Qual Life Res 1993;2:341-348.
[Google Scholar]
Drake LA, Scher RK, Smith EB, et al. Effect of onychomycosis on quality of life. J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;38:702-704.
[Google Scholar]
Show Sections