fungal nail infection occurs when a
fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin
under the nail, called the nail bed. Fungi (plural of
fungus) can attack your nails through small cuts in
the skin around your nail or through the opening between your nail and nail
If you are healthy, a fungal nail infection
probably won't cause serious problems. But it may look bad, hurt, or damage
your nail or nail bed.
A fungal nail infection could lead to more
serious problems if you have
diabetes or a weak
immune system. Talk to your doctor about the best way
to treat a nail infection if you have one of these problems.
molds, and different kinds of fungi can cause fungal nail infections. Most are
caused by the same type of fungus that causes
Fungi grow best in warm,
moist places, and they can spread from person to person. You can get a fungal
nail infection from walking barefoot in public showers or pools or by sharing
personal items, such as towels and nail clippers. If you have athlete's foot,
the fungus can spread from your skin to your nails.
A nail with a fungal
- Turn yellow or white.
- Get thicker.
- Crumble and split, and it may separate from the skin.
When you have a fungal nail infection, it can be
uncomfortable or even painful to wear shoes, walk, or stand for a long time.
The fungus could also spread to other nails or your skin. Over time, the
infection can cause permanent damage to your nail or nail bed.
doctor will diagnose a fungal nail infection by looking at the nail, asking
about your symptoms and past health, and possibly doing tests to look for
Whether to treat a fungal nail
infection is up to you. If it isn't treated, it won't go away. It might
If you decide to treat a fungal nail infection, you can try a nonprescription antifungal medicine that comes in a cream, lotion, or nail polish. Your doctor can also prescribe a stronger medicine. You may need to use this medicine for a
few weeks or for as long as a year. Even so, it may not get rid of the
Antifungal pills give the best chance of curing a
severe fungal nail infection. But they may cost a lot and have serious side
effects. You will need to see your doctor for regular testing if you take these