Fungal Nails – Figure 1, 2, 3
Nail fungus is a common fungal condition that 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 (See Figures 1, 2 and 3). It can affect one or several nails.
You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:
- Thickened & rough
- Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Distorted in shape
- A dark colour, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Smelling slightly foul
Do come to see us if you have diabetes and think you’re developing nail fungus.
Fungal nail problems are caused by a fungus spreading under the nail into the nail bed. The fungus may infect a broken or injured nail or may spread to the nail from a nearby skin infection like athlete’s foot (tinea).
Factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus include:
- Being older, owing to reduced blood flow and greater exposure to fungi and slower growing nails
- Heavy sweating
- Having a history of athlete’s foot (tinea)
- Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms
- Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis
- Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system
Self-care and prevention:
To help manage or prevent a fungal nail infection (and prevent further infections from developing):
- keep your nails short;
- dry your hands and feet, including between the fingers and toes, after washing; and
- use a separate pair of nail scissors for infected nails
- wear waterproof shoes when doing wet work
- wear open-toed shoes or shoes with plenty of room for your toes
- wear clean, dry socks that absorb moisture, especially if your feet sweat a lot
- change your socks when they are damp from sweat, and
- do not walk barefoot in public change rooms, pools or showers
Oral Antifungal Drugs – can clear the infected area faster than topical drugs but it needs to be taken for 6-12 weeks or until the nail grows back. Let one of our podiatrists advise whether this is appropriate as there are potential side effects. Should this treatment me chosen then it is imperative that you understand how to prevent it from occurring again.
Medicated Nail Cream – this works better if you have thin your nails. This helps the medication get through the hard nail surface to the fungus under the nail. Our podiatrist can help with the nail thinning and the best cream / solutions to use. Again, it is important that you understand how to prevent the condition reoccurring again.
Or a combination of the above therapies!
If the other antifungal medications do not work, then surgery could be an option if the infection is severe or very painful. We have a Podiatry Surgeon who specialises in this area.