Fungal nail refers to a fungal infection of the nail, which is more common in the toenails than in the fingernails. The body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body, while others can multiply rapidly and form infections. Fungal nail problems are caused when a fungus spreads under the nail into the nailbed. The fungus may infect a broken or injured nail or can spread to the nail from a nearby skin infection such as athlete’s foot (tinea).
A fungal nail may show one or more of the following signs:
- Discolouration (may turn white, yellow or brown)
- Loss of luster and shine
- Thickening or roughness of the nail
- Distortion of nail shape
- Brittleness or crumbling of the nail
- Debris becoming trapped under the nail
- Loosening or separation of the nail from the nail bed
- Pain and tenderness
What causes fungal nail?
Fungal infections can be picked up by walking barefoot in public areas that are often moist, such as changing rooms, swimming pools and showers. These are ideal environments for a fungus to spread from person to person.
The risk of fungal nail can also be increased by wearing closed-in footwear, having moist skin (ie, not drying your skin properly), and the presence of minor skin or nail injuries.
Preventing fungal nail
Fungal nail infections are a common ailment that can be easily spread from person to person. Fungal nail infections are often contracted by walking barefoot in public swimming pool changerooms or showers, as these are perfect environments for the fungus to thrive.
Other factors that could make you more prone to a fungal nail infection include having moist skin, which can occur if your feet sweat in closed-in shoes or from not drying your skin properly. If you have minor skin or nail injuries on your feet, this will also make your feet more susceptible to infection.
Although effective treatment options are available, fungal nail infection can be difficult to eradicate. As with most things, it’s best to try and prevent the infection from developing in the first place. So what are the best ways of avoiding fungal nail infections? Here are our quick top tips for preventing fungal nail infections:
- Thoroughly dry your feet after bathing
- Wear moisture-wicking socks and change these regularly if necessary
- Allow moisture to escape from your feet by wearing sandals or dry roomy shoes
- Minimise trauma to the toenails by making sure your shoes are not too tight
- Wear footwear (such as thongs) when walking in public changerooms or showers
- Don’t share socks, shoes, nail clippers or nail files with others
Fungal nail infections can be difficult to treat and prone to recurrence. If you think you may have a fungal nail it is always best to see a podiatrist to confirm a diagnosis and ensure appropriate treatment to get on top of the problem as quickly as possible. Click here for more information about fungal nail infections.
For further advice make an appointment with Entire Podiatry. Contact your nearest clinic directly or Freecall 1800-4-368473 (that’s 1800-4-ENTIRE).
How is fungal nail treated?
Fungal nail can be difficult to treat and prone to recurrence.
If you think you may have a fungal nail it is always best to see a podiatrist to confirm a diagnosis as the signs of a fungal nail can be similar to other medical conditions such as psoriasis. If a fungal nail is suspected, your podiatrist can take a nail scraping (no pain involved!) and send this to pathology to check the type of fungi. If there is a positive result then appropriate medication may be recommended to treat the fungi.
Depending on your individual situation, conservative treatment will usually involve either an oral medication or a topical solution. There are pros and cons of each treatment option and your podiatrist will discuss these with you in consideration of your needs. When topical solution is used, regular podiatry treatment is needed so that nails can be thinned out and the solution is able to penetrate the site of the fungal infection. Podiatry treatment for fungal nail will also include footwear advice to avoid ongoing trauma to the nails.
In addition to traditional treatment options, a new and exciting technology is now available for the treatment of stubborn fungal nail: laser podiatry. Entire Podiatry was the first clinic in Queensland to offer laser podiatry treatment using the Cutera GenesisPlus laser system.
Keryflex for damaged nails
If you have an unsightly toenail from a fungal nail issue, you may like to consider Keryflex Nail Restoration. It’s important to note that KeryFlex toenail treatment is not an antifungal therapy. However KeryFlex can be used to improve the cosmetic appearance of this nail. This is particularly useful when fungal treatment has failed or is not suitable.
Kery Flex is also better for your foot health than acrylic nails. It is not uncommon for a fungal infection to develop beneath an acrylic nail. This happens because air and moisture sits between the nail and the acrylic nail allowing an infection to take hold and thrive. As the KeryFlex nail is non-porous, this does not occur.