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Fungal nail infections

Fungal nail infections can cause nails to become discoloured and brittle. This contagious condition can cause pain if left untreated, impacting daily activities. Read on to find out more about this condition, it's symptoms, treatments and preventive measures you can take.

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  • Treats fungal nail infections
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What is a fungal nail infection?

Also known as onychomycosis, fungal nail infections are more common in toenails than fingernails. The fungal infection develops gradually and can be difficult to treat.

In many cases, a fungal nail infection is caused by the same fungi responsible for athletes foot. Because the condition is contagious, you should take precautions to minimise the risk of exposing others to the infection.

An infection in the nail can have an impact on daily activities. A fingernail infection can affect dexterity, while toenail infections can interfere with walking and exercise.

Diagnosis of the condition can usually be made by the physical and visible characteristics of infection, also known as the clinical picture. Otherwise, a sample of the infected nail(s) can be taken and tested to determine a diagnosis.

If left untreated, a fungal nail infection can cause pain and permanent damage to your nails. The infection can also spread to other parts of the body in people with suppressed immune systems.

Moreover, fungal nail infections, much like athletes foot, are contagious and can be passed on to others. Shared nail beauty apparatus, such as files and clippers, and towels can spread the infection to others. Warm, moist environments where people are barefoot, such as communal showers, changing rooms and swimming pools, provide an ideal environment for the fungus.

It is important to treat your fungal nail infection to prevent further damage to the nail.


What are the symptoms of a fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail infections are characterised by the following symptoms:

  • Brittle nail
  • Cracked skin surround the nail
  • Discolouration of the nail
  • Distortion of the nail
  • Itchy, red or swollen skin around the nail
  • Pain when applying pressure on the affected nail
  • Whitish thickening of the nail

As the infection spreads, it can cause the infected nail to lift from the nail bed. In severe cases, the affected nail may need to be partially or permanently removed.


How can you prevent a fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail infections can be prevented by practising good hygiene.

Washing your feet daily and drying them thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes can prevent fungal infections.

Wearing clean cotton socks and shoes which fit well can make your feet less habitable for the fungi.

Avoid traversing barefoot in areas that allow fungi to spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms.

If you experience athletes foot, there is a risk this can spread and cause a fungal nail infection. You may need to replace socks and shoes which you may have worn while you had athletes foot.


Treating a fungal nail infection

Fungal nail infections do not clear up on their own, and leaving it untreated can cause the infection to spread. Speak to your doctor about treating a fungal nail infection.

Your doctor may suggest a topical treatment, such as Loceryl nail lacquer, to treat the infection. Topical treatments are applied directly to the sight of infection, killing the fungi over time. The lacquer needs to be applied daily to the infected nail(s) semi-weekly.

When treating a fungal nail infection, it is important to continue the treatment until the infection is cleared, otherwise there is a risk that the infection will grow back. You may need further appointments with your doctor to determine that the treatment is still effective.

Treating a fungal nail infection does not make you immune to future infections. To reduce the changes of contracting a fungal nail infection, it's important to practise good foot hygiene by keeping your feet clean and dry.


Table of contents

What is fungal nail infection?

What are the symptoms of fungal nail infection?

How can you prevent a fungal nail infection?

Treating a fungal nail infection

References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fungal-nail-infection/

https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g1800