A fungal nail infection occurs due to the overgrowth of fungi on the toenail, fingernail, or under the toe of the nail known as nail bed. Fungal nail infection is not a serious problem, but may hamper the appearance of nail and cause damage to the nails. The risk of developing a fungal nail infection increases if a patient has athlete’s foot. Fungal nail infection is highly contagious and can spread easily to healthy person from an infected person. Fungal nail infection occurs more in toenails than fingernails.
Causes of fungal nail infection
The overgrowth of fungi in the nails is one of the most common causes of fungal infection. Fungi are already present on our bodies, but become active when we come in contact with the person who has a fungal infection. Living in warm and moist temperature may also cause fungal nail infection as fungi flourishes under warm temperature. The risk of developing a fungal nail infection also increases if anyone in the family has this infection.
The common symptoms of fungal nail infection include:
Risk factors for fungal nail infection
- Turning of nail color into pale yellow
- Broken or brittle nails
- Formation of debris under the nail
- White spots on the nail
- Damaged nail surface
- Pain in the nails
- Loss of nail
- Odor from the infected nail
- Scaling under the nail
These are some of the few factors that increase the chance of developing a fungal nail infection:
Diagnosis of fungal nail infection
A dermatologist will start the diagnosis of fungal nail infection by performing a physical exam and asking about your medical history. Lab tests
to examine fungal nail infection include:
- Potassium hydroxide test to check for the development of fungi on the nails.
- Nail biopsy includes taking the sample of the affected tissue and observing it under the microscope.
- Fungal culture test to check for the growth of fungi on the nails.
Anti-fungal medicines such as diflucan, gris-peg, and lamisil may be given to a patient to slow down fungal nail infection. A dermatologist may also prescribe antifungal gels and creams to prevent fungal nail infection from developing further. Sometime he may have to perform a nail removal surgery. A patient with fungal nail infection can also apply tea tree oil or neem oil directly over the affected area to get rid of fungal nail infection. Keep the nails trimmed and clean to prevent the recurrence of fungal nail infection.
Preventing fungal nail infection
- Wear socks to avoid moisture
- Use antifungal soap for cleaning the fungal nail infection
- Avoid the use of artificial nails and nail polish
- Do not share your own items for manicure or pedicure
- Keep the areas between nails dry