A fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails typically looks like white or yellowed nails that may also be thick and brittle. The infection could affect one nail or part of a nail, or it could affect multiple nails. If left untreated, fungal infections can lead to permanent nail damage.
Getting a fungal nail infection is remarkably easy.
Toenails are the most vulnerable to fungal infection because they spend most of their day in socks and shoes, both of which trap moisture that promotes fungus growth. Walking barefoot in a warm, moist place like a pool or gym locker room where someone else with a nail fungus has also walked barefoot puts you at risk.
Fingernails that are wet for hours at a time are also susceptible to fungus and a fungal infection on your foot can spread to your fingernails.
People with diabetes or weakened immune systems that acquire a fungal nail infection have an increased risk of developing sores that won’t heal and should seek treatment immediately.
Not all thick, brittle and discolored nails are the result of a fungal infection. Your doctor can help you determine if there is a fungal infection present. General symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:
Fungal nail infections are easy to get but hard to treat, and recurrence is common.
Most topical anti-fungal medications applied directly to the nail are ineffective because they cannot penetrate the hard nail in sufficient concentration to kill the fungi. If the fungal infection has already reached the nail bed (where the nail starts growing), oral medications may be prescribed. These medications reach the nail bed through the bloodstream.
If the nail is badly damaged, it may have to be removed.
The best way to prevent fungal nail infection is to practice good hygiene and keep your hands and feet clean and dry. Other recommendations include:
*Results may vary by individual