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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Fungal Nail Infections - When To Call a Doctor

Call your doctor for an immediate appointment if a fungal nail infection shows signs of bacterial infection, such as:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat.
  • Red streaks extending from the area.
  • Discharge of pus.
  • Fever of 100°F (37.78°C) or higher with no other cause.

Call your doctor for an appointment if your symptoms are troubling you, such as when:

  • A fungal infection appears to be spreading to the skin under the nail, the nail itself, or the surrounding skin.
  • The infected area is painful.
  • A thickened toenail causes discomfort.
  • Your nail's appearance concerns you.

If you think you have a fungal nail infection, see your doctor. Your doctor can check your nail and recommend ways to treat it.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won't need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide what to do next. If a nail is discolored or damaged but isn't painful, you may decide not to treat the infection. Antifungal medicine doesn't guarantee a cure, and antifungal pills (oral medicine) can be expensive and have potentially dangerous side effects. But treatment may stop the infection from causing permanent damage to the nail and increase the chance of a cure.

Who to see

Health professionals who can diagnose and treat a fungal nail infection include:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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