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Fungal Nail Infection: Causes And Treatment

Posted On: February 11, 2020

Fungal Nail Infection: Causes And Treatment

Fungal nail infection is an infection that occurs in the tissue folds around the nails. Normally, this infection occurs from the overgrowth of fungi. Fungi are known to thrive in a moist environment. This means that they can overpopulate in such type of environment.

Fungal nail infection is a common infection in 16 European countries. This infection was discovered in the late 19th century. The infection that begins as a white or yellow spot on the toenail has become one of the most common nail disorders in adults.

Types of fungal nail infection

There are several types of fungal nail infection. Each of them comes with different signs and symptoms. Here are the most common types.

  • Distal Lateral Subungual Onychomycosis (DLSO). It is the most common type of fungal nail infection. Normally, this infection begins with the invasion of the space under the nail edge. In terms of clinical appearance, a separation of the nail from the nail bed will be noticed. The area under the nail will thicken over time. In most cases, this infection affects the fingernails.
  • Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (PSO). There are a few cases of this infection. It is more common in people with AIDS. How does the infection begin? The nail fold will be infected. A white discoloration is noticed in the nail bed.
  • White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO). In this fungal nail infection, the infection starts at the surface of the nail. After several weeks, it progresses to deeper layers. The entire nail surface turns white.

Causes of fungal nail infection

You can agree with me that fungus thrives in dark and warm places. This means that your toenails are most likely to be affected when compared to your fingernails. Do you know that your toes have less blood flow than your fingers? This means that it is quite hard for your body to prevent an infection.

Men are more likely to have this infection than women. In addition, old people who have an extremely weak immune system are at a higher risk. So, what are the main causes of fungal nail infection?

Fungi. These are microscopic organisms that do not require sunlight to survive. Candida is the most common group of fungi. Research has shown that they are responsible for all nail infections. However, there are other yeasts and molds that can cause these infections.

Risk factors of fungal nail infection

You might be aware that anyone can get fungal nail infection. But most fungal nail infections are more common in men than women. We have compiled some additional traits that have been known to cause fungal nail infection. Let’s take a look.

  • Wearing artificial nails.
  • Circulation problems.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Extremely tight footwear.
  • Family history of fungal infection.
  • Slow growing nails.
  • Infection of the skin.

Complications of fungal nail infection

Previous cases have shown that indeed nail fungus can be painful. It has been associated with permanent damage in nails. Away from that, this infection can lead to other serious complications. The infections may spread beyond your feet if you have a weak immune system.

Any minor injury to your foot can lead to a more serious complication. With that in mind, you should seek attention from your personal doctor if you think you are developing nail fungus.

Symptoms of fungal nail infection

It is good to know that fungal nail infection may not cause any symptoms at first. You should seek medical attention if your toenails are cracked and painful. Over the years, there have emerged other problems that can affect your nails look. In case you observe such problems, you should visit the nearest medical facility simply because fungal infection is a common culprit.

As the fungal nail infection progresses, it can cause the following signs.

  • Discoloration of the nails. In most cases, nails turn white, yellow or even green.
  • Thickening of the nail. You will notice an unusual shape. You will have difficulties trimming this shape.
  • Pain and discomfort. You will experience pain more so when you are placing pressure on the affected finger.
  • Crumbly nails. The nail pieces may break off and come away completely.

Although it’s rare, the skin close to the nails may also become infected. It may either get cracked or swollen.

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Treatment of fungal nail infection

Are you aware that treatment is not always needed for a fungal nail infection? What is the main reason behind this? Treatment may cause further problems. You can feel it is not worth treating the infection. You should have good hygiene whether you decide to have treatment or not. The essence of doing this is to stop the infection from getting worse and spreading to other parts of the body.

You should consider talking to GP or pharmacist if you suspect you have fungal nail infection. Here are some of the treatments they will recommend.

  • Nail softening kits – In this treatment, a paste is used to soften the infected parts of the nail. From there, they are removed with a scraping device. This should be done with extreme care.
  • Anti-fungal nail paints – These are special paints applied directly to the nail. You will be required to have this treatment for several months. Nail paints are not very effective when compared to tablets. They can be difficult to reach the deeper layers of the nail. The best thing about anti-fungal nail paints is that they don’t have any side effects.
  • Anti-fungal tablets – Usually, the tablets are taken twice a day for several months. You should take them continuously to ensure that the infection has completely cleared up. Fungal nail infection may return if you stop taking the medication early. These tablets come with several side effects that include headache and loss of taste.

The medical expert will give you a detailed procedure to remove the nail completely. In addition, laser treatment is used in severe cases. In this kind of treatment, a high energy laser is used to destroy the fungus. Unfortunately, this treatment is only available privately. Also, it is quite expensive.

Results of the treatment

Anti-fungal treatment can treat more than 80% of all fungal nail infections. How long can it take for the affected nail to return to normal? It takes about 18 months. You will notice a new healthy nail growing from the base of the nail if the treatment option is working. Also, the old infected nail will start growing out.

What if the healthy nail does not start to grow after a few weeks? In that case, it is advisable to talk to an experienced GP. You should use the treatment until your GP tells you to stop. Your infection may return if you stop very early.

Scraping away the nail

At times, the anti-fungal medication may take a long time to work. Nowadays, many people prefer using treatment options that involves removing the infected parts. You can find treatment kits from pharmacies. These kits come with a 40% urea paste and scraping device. How does the paste work? It softens the infected parts of the nail. This allows them to be scrapped so that they can be gradually replaced with a healthy nail.

How do you use this treatment?

  • Wash the affected part of the toenail. The affected part should be dried thoroughly.
  • Apply some paste to the infected nails.
  • Cover the nails with plasters. You should leave them for 24 hours.
  • Wash the paste the next day. As you wash it, you should scrap the softened parts of the nail.
  • Repeat the process thoroughly for 3 weeks.

After you have removed all the infected parts, you can ask your pharmacist for anti-fungal nail paint. This prevents re-infection as the nail regrows.

Removing the nail

You don’t need to have a procedure to remove affected nails. At times, your doctor may recommend especially when the infection is painful and other treatment options have not helped.


Do you pay a lot of attention to your nails? You might fail to notice the unwelcome visitor. There are several signs that will emerge when you have fungal nail infection. You can attest that it is a real pain to get rid of fungal nail infection. Therefore, it is very important to know how you can prevent it. We have analyzed different ways on how you can prevent fungal nail infection.

  • Snip carefully. You should keep your nails trimmed short. This mainly prevents the spread of infection. Avoid sharing nail trimmers with your friends.
  • Be careful around fungal hotspots. You should avoid kicking off your shoes in places with a lot of germs. You should visit a licensed and clean nail salon. Make sure that the salon operator uses sterilized instruments.
  • Clean your nails well. Nails should be scrubbed with soap and water. It is very helpful in defending against infection.

Final thoughts

There are different types of fungal nail infection and you need to be sure of the type you have before commencing treatment. For some people, treating fungal nail infection can be quite difficult. The first round of medication might fail to work. With that in mind, this is the right time to learn how to prevent this infection.

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