Everything you need to know about Fungal Nail Infections
Updated: Jun 26
Fungal nail infections are common and can affect both the fingernails and the toenails.
The problem usually affects more men than women and becomes more common the older you become.
A fungal nail infection causes visual changes to the nail.
It causes the nail to;
• Change colour – white dusting, yellow, dark brown and even green.
• Become thickened
• Become brittle.
• As the infection progresses the nails will start to produce a distinct odour.
Around half of all nail problems are due to fungal nail infections.
What causes it?
Fungi called Dermatophytes live harmlessly on the skin but can often multiply and lead to infection in dark, warm and moist environments such as the feet.
A fungal nail infection (onychomycosis – medical term) will often develop as athletes foot infection first. If the skin infection is not treated, fungal spores will then enter the nail through trauma or lifting of the nail.
Other causes which can exacerbate a fungal infection include;
• A different pH-value of the skin
• Not drying feet properly after bathing or sport, particularly between the toes.
• A reduced immune system
• Wearing shoes that are to tight
• Age – the chance on fungal nail increases with age
• Entering public places bare feet – for example swimming pools, public showers and sauna’s • Problems with blood circulation
• People with compromised immune systems such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid issues etc
What can help?
Keeping feet clean and dry can help to reduce the risk of developing a fungal nail infection. Wearing shoes made from natural materials and cotton or bamboo socks will allow the feet to breathe.
Changing socks throughout the day if you find they are slightly damp.
Fungal residue can build up in towels, bathmats, socks and shoes, therefore, it is very important that they are washed regularly and not shared with others.
What are the treatment options?
There is a choice of either oral or topical anti-fungal treatments.
Ideally if a fungal nail infection has not reached the cuticle (eponychium) topical treatment if very effective and has less side effects.
Mycosan for minor fungal nail infections which are white or light yellow in colour and have not reached the nail bed.
Curanail – for moderate nail infections which have a yellow appearance that have not reached the nail bed or cuticle.
Canespro for severe infections where the nail has become very thickened and crumbling. The ointment will soften the thickened nail, revealing the nail bed. Canespro may need to be followed up with lamisil cream depending on the infection present.
If your Fungal nail infection does not appear to be improving after 6-8 weeks of consistent use it is important to contact your Podiatrist. Often it is not a fungal nail infection. Nail disorders are frequently mistaken for fungal infections.