Onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the nail bed, is responsible for up to 50% of nail disorders. Although several surveys have been conducted in different parts of the world, there have been no multicenter epidemiologic surveys of onychomycosis in North America.
A 12-center study was undertaken to (1) determine the frequency of onychomycosis, (2) identify organisms recovered from the nails, and (3) determine the antifungal susceptibility of isolates.
A total of 1832 subjects participated in this study and completed a comprehensive questionnaire, and nail clippings were collected for potassium hydroxide examination and culturing.
The frequency of onychomycosis, as defined by the presence of septate hyphae on direct microscopy and/or the recovery of a dermatophyte, was found to be 13.8%. In general, the dermatophyte isolates were susceptible to the antifungals tested.
Because of the limited number of large-scale studies, the baseline incidence is not firmly established. However, the higher frequency of onychomycosis in this study may confirm the suspected increase in incidence of disease in North America.