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What is nail fungus?

Nail fungus is a very commonly seen fungal infection of the fingernail or toenail. It begins at the edge of the nail and then spreads to the middle, leading to discolouration or change in colour of the nail. Although a fungal infection of the nail is not serious, it may take a long time to cure.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

A fungal infection of the nail may cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain around the nail
  • Swelling in the area surrounding the nail
  • Change in the nail shape
  • Thickening of the nail
  • Discolouration or change in colour
  • Brittle nails
  • Trapped debris under the nail
  • Crumbled edges
  • Loss of shine and lustre

What are its main causes?

The incidence of toenail infections is more common than that of fingernail infections.  The following conditions lead to an increased risk of fungal infection of the nails:

  • Minor nail or skin injuries
  • Weakened immunity
  • Deformity of the nails
  • Nail disorder
  • Closed footwear that restricts the supply of air to the nails
  • The skin remaining moist for a long time

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The doctor will diagnose a fungal nail infection with the following checks:

  • Physical examination of the nail.
  • The nail is scraped, and the tissue is studied under a microscope. This helps in identifying the type of fungal infection.

Treatment:

Over-the-counter topical creams and ointments do not cure the condition. The following treatment procedures are effective in the treatment of nail fungus:

  • Oral antifungal medications-. The duration of treatment is longer for toenails than for fingernails.
  • Laser treatments are useful in killing the fungus.
  • Sometimes, nail removal is the only option left to get rid of the infection.

Treatment of a fungal nail infection takes a long time, hence it is always advisable to prevent a nail infection rather than treat one.

To prevent a nail infection:

  • Always keep your nails and the surrounding skin clean and dry
  • Wash thoroughly after contact with any other fungal infection on your body or someone else’s
  • Avoid sharing manicure and pedicure tools
  • Take excellent care of your nails and skin
  1. Medicines for Nail Fungus
  2. Doctors for Nail Fungus
Dr. Neha Gupta

Dr. Neha Gupta

संक्रामक रोग

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Dr. Lalit Shishara

संक्रामक रोग

Dr. Alok Mishra

Dr. Alok Mishra

संक्रामक रोग

References

  1. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Fungal nail infection.
  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Nail fungus.
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Fungal nail infection.
  4. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Who gets nail fungus?
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Fungal Nail Infections.
  6. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Nail fungus: Overview. 2015 Jan 14 [Updated 2018 Jun 14].
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