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Epidemiology, clinical presentation and diagnosis of onychomycosis.

Onychomycosis is a common nail disease, responsible for up to 50% of diseases of the nail. The distribution of different pathogens is not uniform; it depends on various factors such as climate, geography and migration. However, studies have revealed that two dermatophytes, Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, account for more than 90% of onychomycoses. Onychomycosis can be divided into four major clinical presentations: distal subungal (the most common form of the disease), proximal subungal (the most common form found in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection), and superficial and total dystrophic onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is a multifactorial disease. Age has a very important effect on the occurrence of onychomycosis, with a correlation between increasing age and infection. Genetics has also been identified as a factor governing the epidemiology of onychomycosis; T. rubrum infection shows a familial pattern of autosomal dominant inheritance. Disease and lifestyle may also play a role in the epidemiology of fungal nail infections. Studies have shown that diabetes, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and peripheral arterial disease may be independent predictors of onychomycosis. Because of the multifactorial nature of the epidemiology, accurate diagnosis, pertinent treatment and patient education must be paramount when treating the disease.

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