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Fungal Nail Infection

Treatment For Fungal Nail Infection

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What is a fungal nail infection?

A fungal nail infection, also known as onychomycosis, is a common condition that often starts off as a white or yellow spot beneath the tip of your toe or fingernail. As the infection progresses and spreads, the fungus can cause discolouration and thickness of the nail and. Severe cases can cause parts the nail to fall off or crumble at the edge. This can spread across several nails.

What is the cause of fungal nail infections?

They are caused by fungi underneath the nail which develop and spread. Fungi prefer warm and moist environments, which is why fungal nail infections are more common on the feet. You can catch fungal nail infections from other people, for example in the gym, or by sharing nail cutters. People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or psoriasis are more prone to nail infections.

What does a fungal nail infection look like?

You may not notice the infection at first. As it develops, you may notice the nail changing to a green or yellow colour. The nail may also thicken, making it difficult to clip your nails. After a few months, your nail can start to feel painful when you apply pressure. Severe infections can cause the nail to crumble and fall off. It is best to use a fungal nail treatment at the early signs of infection. This can prevent the infection from developing.

What are the options for fungal nail treatments?

  • Antifungal nail lacquer – Treatments such as Amorolfine or Curanail should be applied once a week over a period of several months
  • Antifungal tablets – To be taken once or twice a day for several months
  • Nail softening kits – A paste which is used to soften parts of the nail that are infected to allow them to be taken off using a scraping device

Fungal nail infections do not always require treatment. You should visit your GP or pharmacist if the appearance of an affected nail is bothering you or causing you pain or discomfort.

Maintaining good foot hygiene can prevent fungal nail infections and stop fungus from spreading to other nails.

How can fungal nail infections be prevented?

The risk of developing a fungal nail infection can be prevented by:

  • Regularly washing your hands and feet and keeping them clean and dry
  • Wearing clean cotton socks
  • Wearing shoes that allow your feet to “breathe”
  • Not walking around barefoot in public places such as swimming pools, lockers or showers
  • If you get athlete’s foot, you should treat it immediately in order to avoid spread of the infection to your nails
  • Keeping nails short, and avoiding sharing nail clippers with other people

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