Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis) is an infection of the nails. It occurs when a fungus enters the finger nail or toe nail, however it is much more common in toenails. It is characterized by white crumbling nails. Despite looking unpleasant it does not usually cause pain and can be treated. Although anyone can get nail fungus, it is most common in those aged 60 or older. You can get it from many places for example shared changing rooms. Other things that may lead to nail fungus is having damaged or broken nails which allow fungus to get underneath.
- Yellow or white nails
- Thick nails
- Crumbly or powdery nail (Nail may even come away from the toe completely)
- Redness around nail
- Painful around or on the nail
It is not uncommon for no symptoms to occur.
Nail Fungus or fungal nail infection is mainly caused by a fungal skin infection e.g. Athlete’s Foot. Nearly one in three people with athlete’s foot will have a nail infection. If you wear trainers or have hot sweaty feet most of the time, this may cause a nail infection. Other factors include;
Sometimes treatment may not be needed. However, failing to treat the infection may mean the infection spreads to other nails. The main types of treatments are Anti-fungal tablets or Anti-fungal nail paint. Tablets are very effective at removing fungal infections however, treatment normally lasts from 3 – 6 months.
Nail Paint maybe suggested for those who do not want tablets. It is not as effective as tablets and some areas of the infection may not be reached. This method of treatment can take from 6months to a year.
Infections of fingernails are easier to treat as the nail grows quicker and the fingers are not in a warm, damp environment that a shoe provides.
Most types are curable. Once cured you should try prevent it from returning, some tips can be found at our Athlete’s foot page.
Prevention is similar to preventing Athlete’s foot, avoid walking barefooted in public areas, wear clean socks and ensure your feet are fully dry after washing.