Fungal toe nails or onychomycosis is an infection caused by a fungal species known as dermatophytes but can also be caused by some yeasts or moulds. It typically invades the the nail if it becomes broken or damaged but can penetrate under the nail if there is a surrounding fungal skin infection.
Signs & Symptoms
- Separation of the nail from the nail bed
- Thickened and/or crumbly and/or brittle
- They can also be orange or brown in appearance
Risk factors for developing fungal nail infections
- Having diabetes
- Any condition that affects the immune system/ immuno-compromised
- Being over the age of 60. At least 20% of the population over the age of 60 have a fungal nail infection
- Having sweaty or constantly moist feet
- Being involved with sports that often injure the nails such as running or basketball/netball
- Wearing shoes with poor ventilation/ made out of synthetic materials
Treatment for fungal nails vary and it can be a slow process as nails can take as long as 12 months to grow from base to tip. If the fungal infection is superficial or it involves the distal portion of the nail (the nail portion that is furthest from the cuticle), topical treatments can be used. These need to be used until the unhealthy portion of the nail has grown out. Nail polish or artificial nails cannot be worn for the period of time whilst you are treating the infection with topical anti-fungals. If there is widespread nail involvement and/or the infection is close to the cuticle region then oral antibiotics are generally required.