Ways to Prevent and Treat a Fungal Nail Infection

Most people will develop a fungal nail infection at some point or another, and they are easily spread. The infection causes a thickened and unappealing nail which can sometimes become quite painful. It is easy to treat them with medication, but you will need to take this for several weeks in order to clear the infection fully. Studies suggest that between three and eight people in 100 have a fungal nail infection at some point in their lives, and these become more common as we age, with more people get them over the age of 55. They’re also common in people who go swimming regularly or work out in the gym, as communal showers or changing rooms are breeding grounds for infections such as these.


A fingernail infection may develop after a toenail infection has occurred, as you may scratch your toe and pick up the infection this way. Interestingly, if you wash your hands more regularly or have them in water a lot (such as if you’re a cleaner or a cook) you may be more prone to infections. This is because the protective skin at the base of the nail becomes damaged and this enables fungi to get in and grow. If you have other conditions you’re also more likely to develop these infections – such conditions include diabetes, poor circulation, psoriasis, a poor immune system or general poor health. Smoking also increases the risk, but sometimes there is no reason behind why you have a nail infection – fungus can grow in hot or humid conditions, so you may have picked up the germs from somewhere and unknowingly provided a prime environment for it to develop. You’ll be able to spot a fungal nail infection by the appearance of the nail – it usually becomes thicker and discoloured, usually turning a yellowish-green colour. In most cases this is all that occurs, but if the infection becomes worse it may lead to white or yellow patched on the nail, or it may become itchy and painful. Though it’s often easy to self-diagnose, other nail conditions can have similar symptoms, so you may wish to get it checked by a GP to confirm that you have a fungal infection. They will usually take a clipping of the nail to be sent for testing.


Treatment doesn’t always cure the infection, and the rates of curing for this condition average between 60 to 80 percent. It also doesn’t always clear the infection entirely, so you may find that it returns again later on. Your nail’s appearance might not return to normal – it’s common for people to be left with a stained or marked nail. Anti-fungal tablets or creams are used to treat the infection, as well as clearing any associated fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Anti-fungal nail lacquers are also an option, which are prescribed for specific infections such as those on the end of the nail. In order for it to be effective, it will need to be applied exactly as prescribed – you may need to use it for up to a year on toenail infections for it to clear the infection entirely. In severe cases, the nail may actually have to be removed. Research is being carried out to see if new treatments can be developed to clear fungal nail infections. If there is fresh and healthy nail growing from the base of your nail bed, it’s a sign that the treatment is working. This will continue to grow forward and will eventually grow out the marked or infected nail, so that your nail looks normal again.


If you want to prevent a fungal nail infection from developing, you should keep your nails cut short and file down thickened nails. If you do develop an infection, be sure to cut your nail with a separate pair of scissors or clippers than you use on the other nails to stop the spread of infection.

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