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Home / Fungal Nail Infections

Fungal Nail Infections

Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Fungal Nail Infections (Tinea Unguium)

Fungal Nail Infections are extremely common with most of us experiencing at least one in our lifetimes. They are usually not deemed serious, however treatments can speed up recovery and minimise any discomforting symptoms. You can order Fungal Nail Infections medications here online or read on to find out more.

What are fungal nail infections?

Fungal infections can affect almost any part of the body and fungal nail infections are very common.

Fungi are always present in your body, just like bacteria, but if they grow too much it may result in an infection.

Typically, the fungi that cause fungal nail infections are from the dermatophyte group, but yeast and mould can also cause nail infections.

Fungus develops in warm, damp environments. So, you're more likely to get an infection if you wear trainers for long periods and have hot sweaty feet, for example.

Nail infections, also known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium, usually occur in the toenails, although it's possible for fingernails to become infected too.

The infection normally begins at the edge of the nail then spreads through the middle. Eventually, the nail becomes discoloured and lifts off easily. When the nail becomes brittle and splits apart, it can cause pain and swelling in the skin around it.

If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you should see your doctor as soon as you realise you might have a fungal nail infection. It can lead to several complications, so it's best to treat it as early as possible.

If you do not have a medical condition and your fungal nail infection is mild and not causing you pain, you may not need treatment. However, if it's painful and has resulted in thickened nails, you may wish to treat the infection with over-the-counter medicines. These treatments can take a long time to work and need multiple applications.

If your discomfort is severe, it's best to see your doctor. By leaving the infection untreated, or failing to treat it properly, you risk the resurgence of the infection and the permanent loss or discolouration of the affected nail(s).

You also risk the spread of infection to other areas of your body, as well as into the bloodstream. You may even develop a bacterial skin infection known as cellulitis.

What causes fungal nail infections?

There are many causes of fungal nail infections, but all involve overgrown fungi in, under, or on the nail. The fungi that cause nail infection are the same as those that cause jock itch, athlete's foot and ringworm.

These fungi thrive in warm moist environments, such as shoes and socks. This is why it's more common to get fungal nail infections on your toenails than on your fingernails.

It's often the fungi present in your own body that cause nail infections. However, the infection can also be spread through person-to-person contact or through contact with contaminated surfaces.

For example, beauty salons may cause fungal nail infections to occur if they fail to properly sanitise their equipment (emery boards, nail clippers etc).

While fungal nail infections can affect everyone, there are several risk factors you should be aware of. For example, you're much more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have a weak immune system
  • Are over 65 years old
  • Have poor circulation
  • Wear false nails
  • Have injured the nail or skin around it
  • Wear closed-toe shoes
  • Have moist or damp fingers or toes for extended periods of time

Fungal nail infections occur more frequently in men than in women and are more common in adults than in children. However, even if you practice good foot hygiene, you may still get a fungal nail infection.

What are the symptoms of fungal nail infections?

Fungal nail infections develop over time, so initial changes are subtle and may be hard to notice. However, the earlier you catch the infection, the easier it is to treat so you should regularly inspect your nails for changes.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Subungual hyperkeratosis – scaling under the nail
  • Lateral onychomycosis – streaks of white or yellow on the nail
  • Distal onychomycosis – crumbling tip of the nail
  • Proximal onychomycosis – yellow spots at the bottom of the nail
  • A distorted nail that lifts from the nail bed
  • Flaky white areas on the nail's surface, sometimes including pits in the nail
  • Odour coming from the nail
  • Brittle or thickened nail
  • Losing the nail

Other infections can also affect your nails, so it's not always easy to tell if you have a fungal nail infection.

The only way to confirm your diagnosis is to see a doctor. They will take a scraping of the nail to look for signs of fungus, and then treat you accordingly.

How to treat fungal nail infections

Fungal nail infections can take a long time to treat, and treatments have varying degrees of success. However, it is important to try to treat the infection if it's causing you discomfort or distress. There are several options you can try:

1) Antifungal nail polish is an easy-to-use method for getting rid of infection. Paint the lacquer on the affected nail and surrounding skin once a day.

On day seven, wipe away the layers from that week with alcohol and start the cycle over again.

This is a slow-moving process and it may take as long as a year to get rid of the infection. If it doesn't work after that time, you should seek professional medical advice.

2) Antifungal cream is also worth trying. Simply rub it into the infected nail after soaking.

This treatment works best if you use a nail softening cream in the two weeks prior to starting the antifungal cream. This will thin out the nail and allow the antifungal cream to get to the fungus quicker.

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching infected nails otherwise the infection may spread to other parts of your body and to other people.

You'll know the infection is cured when a healthy nail grows back at the base. However, you should keep using your chosen treatment as directed in the accompanying leaflet.

Also, be aware that in almost half of all cases, the fungal nail infection returns, and further treatment is required. You should therefore check regularly for fungal nail infection symptoms, so you can start treatment early and stop the infection from setting in.

See your doctor if your fungal nail infection is severe, your at-home treatment hasn't worked, or the infection has spread to other nails.

Your doctor can offer you a standard course of antifungal tablets (6 months). However, these can have side effects including: headaches; itching; and, diarrhoea. You will not be prescribed tablets if you are pregnant or have certain existing medical conditions.

In certain cases, a doctor may decide to remove the affected nail(s) and apply antifungal medication to the area directly. Sometimes this removal is permanent, and sometimes the nail grows back. Your toe will be numbed by local anaesthetic for this procedure.

It's important to practice good foot hygiene during treatment, and after your infection has been cleared. If you don't, your infection may worsen or return.

You should ensure you keep your feet clean and dry and avoid shoes that make your feet hot or sweaty. You should also wear clean socks every day and use antifungal sprays or powders to stop any fungi growing.

Do not share towels, socks, shoes or nail clippers and throw out old shoes that might have fungi growing inside them to prevent the infection from spreading.

How to buy Fungal Nail Infections medications online

Fungal Nail Infections medications come in the form of antifungals often used directly on the area in question. To buy Fungal Nail Infections medication online, first complete a short consultation. This is free of charge and takes approximately 2 minutes to complete.

Once you've completed this consult, it will be saved in your personal member's area for future use, making reordering even quicker.