Fungal infections can affect any part of the body. When a fungus begins to overgrow, you can get an infection. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that affects either the fingernails or the toenails. It begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolour, thicken and crumble at the edge.
Nail infections occur more often in men than in women, and they are found in adults more often than in children. Nail fungus is typically caused by a dermatophyte fungus. Yeasts and moulds also can be responsible for nail fungal infections.
You’re more likely to develop a fungal infection if you –
- Have diabetes
- Have a disease that causes poor circulation
- Wear artificial nails
- Have a nail injury
- Have a skin injury to the nail
- Swim in public swimming pools
- Are over the age of 65
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have moist fingers or toes for an extended time
- Wear closed-toe shoes.
Symptoms of nail fungus include –
- Thickened nails
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged edges
- Distorted in shape
- Dull, with no shine
- A dark colour, caused by debris building up under your nail.
- A distorted nail that may lift off from the nail bed
- An odour coming from the infected nail
- Scaling under the nail
- White or yellow streaks on the nail
- Flaking white areas on the nail’s surface
- The appearance of yellow spots at the bottom of the nail
- Loss of the nail
If the condition is mild and does not bother you, you may not need treatment. If the nail fungus is painful and has caused the nail to thicken, self-care steps and medication may help. Even often successful treatment, nail fungus could come back.
If self-care strategies and over-the-counter products haven’t helped, your doctor may suggest a combination of prescription drugs and other approaches.
- Medications –
- Oral antifungal drugs
- Medicated nail polish
- Medicated nail cream
- Surgical or other procedures
- Nail removal
- Laser and light-based therapy