Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment


A frequent nail infection is nail fungus. Under the tip of your fingernail or toenail, it starts as a white or yellow-brown patch. The nail may get discolored, thicken, and disintegrate at the edge as the fungal infection spreads deeper. Many nails may be impacted by nail fungus.


You might not require therapy if your illness is not troubling you and is moderate. Self-care measures and drugs may be helpful if your nail fungus is uncomfortable and has thickened your nails. Even with effective therapy, nail fungus frequently returns.


Another name for nail fungus is onychomycosis. An athlete's foot is a fungal infection that affects the flesh of your feet between your toes (tinea pedis).




A variety of fungi can cause nail fungus (fungi). The dermatophyte kind is the most prevalent. Mold, bacteria, and yeast can all result in nail infections. Green or black staining is typically the outcome of a bacterial illness.


Both a fungal infection of the nail and a fungal infection of the foot (athlete's foot) can spread from one to the other. You could come into touch with the fungus and become infected in areas like the tile of a gym shower or the interior of a pair of black, sweaty sneakers.

How to check if you have Fungal Nail Infection?


If self-care measures have not worked and the nail starts to get thicker, more discolored, or malformed, you might wish to consult a doctor. Additionally, discuss the following with your healthcare professional:


  • You have diabetes and suspect you have nail fungus surrounding the nails in the blood
  • Discomfort or swelling around the nails
  • Have trouble walking


Risk Factors


The following things can make you more likely to get nail fungus:


  • Greater age
  • Wearing footwear that causes significant foot perspiration
  • Having experienced athlete's foot in the past 
  • Wearing bare feet in moist public spaces like showers, gyms, and swimming pools
  • Having a tiny wound on the skin or nails
  • Having a skin ailment like psoriasis that damages the nails
  • Having diabetes, blood flow difficulties, or a weakened immune system




One or more of the following are among the signs of nail fungus:


  • Thickened
  • Discoloured
  • Broken, crumbly, or misshapen
  • Not attached to the nail bed


Although it can damage fingernails, stinky nail fungus is most frequently found in toenails.




The following behaviors can aid in preventing athlete's foot, which can result in nail fungus, as well as nail fungus or reinfections:


  • Keep your nails dry and spotless. Regularly wash your hands and feet. After contacting an infected nail, wash your hands. After thoroughly drying, dust on some antifungal foot powder and hydrate your nails. Using a nail hardener could assist to strengthen cuticles and nails.
  • Trim your nails regularly. Nail edges should be filed smooth, and thicker regions should be filed down. Cut nails straight across. After each usage, disinfect your nail clippers. Allowing your nails to grow long gives the fungus additional areas to spread.
  • Change your socks frequently during the day or wear absorbent socks.
  • Choose shoes with breathable fabrics.
  • Throw away worn-out shoes or treat them with substances that are antifungal or disinfecting.
  • In the locker rooms and around the pool, wear shoes.
  • Choose a nail salon that gives each client a manicure using sterile instruments. Or sterilize the equipment you use for at-home pedicures.
  • Give up fake nail polish.
  • Use an antifungal product to treat an athlete's foot if you have it.



There is not always a necessity for toenail fungus treatment. Occasionally, self-care and over-the-counter medicines can eliminate the illness. If your illness does not get better, consult your doctor. How you should be treated depends on the type of fungus causing your issue and how severe it is.  Observing outcomes might take many months. Moreover, recurring infections are frequent even if your nail health becomes better.




Your doctor may prescribe antifungal drugs for oral usage or topically on the nail.


Oral antifungal medications. These medications are frequently chosen initially. Itraconazole is one alternative (Sporanox). These drugs help the unhealthy nail to be progressively replaced with fresh, new ones.


This kind of medication is normally used every day for 6 to 12 weeks. The treatment's success will not be apparent until the nail has fully recovered. An infection may be gone after four months or more. In persons over 65, treatment success rates with these medications seem to be lower.


Antifungal medications used orally have the potential to harm the liver and result in a rash. Alternatively, they could conflict with other prescribed medications. To monitor your progress while taking these kinds of medications, you might need to have periodic blood tests. Those with congestive heart failure, liver illness, or those on certain medicines may not be advised to use oral antifungal treatments.


Drug-infused nail paint. Your doctor could suggest ciclopirox, an antifungal nail paint (Penlac). Your diseased nails are painted with it. once daily on the skin all around. After seven days, you use alcohol to clear off the piled-on layers before starting fresh treatments. This kind of nail paint can be required every day for practically a year.


Cream for treating nails. Your doctor could suggest an antifungal cream like efinaconazole (Jublia) or tavaborole (Kerydin). After soaking, you apply this product to your affected nails. These creams could work better if you thin the nails first. This makes it easier for the treatment to reach the fungus hidden beneath the surface of the hard nail.


You apply a non-prescription lotion with urea to thin your nails. Instead, your doctor could use a file or another instrument to smooth off the nail's surface (debride).


Side effects from anti-fungal nail lotions are possible.




Your doctor could advise temporarily removing the nail so that the infection under it can be treated with an antifungal medication.


The most efficient but least utilized method is to have the nail and its root surgically removed.


Fungal nail infection is frequently treated at home:


Examine over-the-counter antifungal lotions and ointments for nails. There are several products, including terbinafine (Lamisil). If you see white spots on your nails, file them off, soak them in water, dry them, and then apply the prescription cream or lotion. Even if treatment eliminates your symptoms, the infection is likely to return.


The nails should be thinned. Releasing pressure from the nails aids in pain reduction. Also, the antifungal will be able to penetrate deeper layers of the nail if you do this before applying it.


Before trimming or filing down thick nails, soften them using lotions containing urea. Consult a medical professional if your disease results in inadequate blood flow to your feet, you should take care of your feet.

Complications of Fungal Nail Infection


A serious case of nail fungus can be unpleasant and can permanently damage your nails. However, if you have an immune system that is reduced as a result of medicine, diabetes, or another illness, it might result in additional severe infections that travel beyond your feet.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 16, 2023

Next review due: Mar 16, 2025

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