What is a fungal nail infection?
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
See a picture of a
fungal nail infection.
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.
What causes a fungal nail infection?
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.
You are more
likely to get a nail infection if you:
- Are older than 60.
diabetes or a weak
- Have a nail injury like a hangnail or an
- Wear shoes that make your feet moist or sweaty.
- Live or work in a hot, humid place.
What are the symptoms?
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.
How is a fungal nail infection diagnosed?
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
fungi. Finding out what is causing the infection can help you get the best
How is it treated?
Whether to treat a fungal nail
infection is up to you. If it is not treated, it won't go away, and it might
get worse. But fungal infections can be hard to treat. If you do treat it, you
could spend a lot of money, and the treatment might not work.
you decide to treat a fungal nail infection, you can try an antifungal cream,
lotion, or nail polish. You can buy some types without a prescription, or your
doctor can prescribe a stronger one. 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