Many peopledevelop afungal nail infection at some point in their life. It's not usually serious, but can be unpleasantand difficult to treat.
The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.
The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.
This page covers:
A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.
As it progresses, the infection can cause:
Sometimes the skin nearby may also become infected and be itchy and cracked or red and swollen.
Most fungal nail infections occur as a result ofthe fungi that cause Tinea pedis infecting the nails.
These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.
You're more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this (see below)if you have an infection.
Treatment isn't always needed fora mild fungal nailinfection because it's unlikely to cause any further problems and you may feel it's not worth treating.
Whether you decide to have treatment or not, you shouldstill practise good foot hygiene (see below) to stop the infection getting worse orspreading to others.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you'rebothered by the appearance of the affected nail, or it's causing problems such as pain and discomfort. They'll probably recommend:
A procedure to remove thenail completely may be recommendedin severe cases. Laser treatment, where a high-energy laser is used to destroy the fungus, is also an option. But this isonly available privatelyand can be expensive.
If you regularly visit a salon, make sure any equipment used is properly sterilised between uses.