Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal toenails are surprisingly common. Although not initially painful, the toenail infection can cause them to turn yellow or brown, white bulging/ distortions on the surface of the nail, and rougher ridges and crumbling of the nail. If left untreated, the nail could eventually detach from the toe or finger, which can be painful. The good news that it’s easily treatable. Read on for the Scholl guide to Fungal Nail Infection, including causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Fungal Nail Infection Causes
Fungal nail infections can be caused by different types of fungi, such as candida – the fungus that causes thrush, but it is most often caused by the same type that also causes athlete’s foot, called dermatophyte fungi. The fungi are passed from person to person through direct contact and are carried by socks, shoes, carpet and hosiery.
Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms
There are some obvious signs of a fungal nail infection that you can look out for. You might notice:
- Your nails start to look dull, and lose their natural shine
- There is discolouration around the edge of the nail
- White or yellowish spots in the middle of the nail
- A thickening of the nail, or it becoming brittle
- The nail crumbling and splitting, and even separating from the skin
- Discomfort while wearing shoes, walking, or standing for an extended period
If you have any symptoms, then it is important to act quickly. If you do not treat the infection, there is a chance it will spread to other nails.
Treatment for Fungal Nail Infections
Treatment is not always required for mild cases of fungal nail infection. However, if symptoms persist and the case becomes more severe, antifungal medication is highly-recommended.
Always try to keep your feet dry by wearing breathable footwear and socks that absorb perspiration, changing them often, especially in warm weather.
Treatment of a fungal nail infection can take a long time and lots of care to make sure you avoid infecting healthy toenails:
- Always wash your hands after touching an infected nail
- Sterilise the tools used for pedicures by cleaning them thoroughly under hot water or using alcoholic wipes
- Do not use nail polish and fake nails while you’re treating a fungal nail infection, as they contribute to the growth and spread of fungi
To treat a mild fungal nail infection you can use products that create an unfavourable environment for fungi, eliminating the problem and preventing the spread of infection.
Preventing Fungal Nail Infection
Preventing the risk of fungal nail infection may be very difficult, but there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk. Firstly, avoid walking barefoot in humid or damp conditions. Be sure to wear foot protection such as flip-flops in areas where infection may be easily passed on – such as communal showers and swimming pools.
Also, it is recommended to take action if there is any damage to the nail, as this can offer an opportunity for fungus to get in and under the nail, where it feeds off the keratin in the nails. If you have old footwear, it may be a good idea to replace them as they could be contaminated with the fungus spore.
Additionally, if you notice any symptoms of athlete’s foot, then treat it as soon as possible. Fungus can easily spread to your nails, becoming a fungal nail infection.