Nail damage can be caused by many things. The only way to be sure is to have a sample analysed
Traditionally and in most GP Surgeries to secure a diagnosis, clippings of the nail are taken and sent to a laboratory for two tests -microscopy and culture.
First, for microscopy. Samples are taken and visually examined for fungal elements under a microscope. The results take a few days and identifies a presence of a fungus.
The second requires the sample to be placed in a culture and encouraged to grow which takes about 2-3 weeks. If growth is seen then the test is considered positive. The downside of this is that there is a high false negative rate of around 30%
A recent development from Japan has provided a test that can be now applied quickly without the need for culture. Using a technique called immunoassay which has been shown in clinical studies to be 97.2% successful and is used in other clinical tests such as pregnancy and drug testing kits.
This simple, but effective test, requires a sample of nail placed in a solution to extract fungal elements, which will can tested with a test strip using immune-chemistry, a technique use in other clinical tests such as pregnancy and drug testing kits.
The test will which will indicate the presence of eight fungal spieces (Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T.rubum, t.tonsurans, T. violacem, T. verrucosum, Microsporum gypseum, microsporum canis, and Epidermophyton floccosum). These funguses make up 99%b of all nail infections
Once identified as having an infection then an effective course of treatment can commence.