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Fungal Nail Infections


What is fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail infections (also called Onychomycosis) are common and difficult to treat. The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, brittle or crumbly, thickened, and distorted. Toenails are more commonly affected than fingernails.

Fungal nail infection affects more men than women and becomes more common the older you become. It is estimated that up to 30% of people over 60 years of age are affected.

What causes fungal nail infection?

Fungus is in the environment all around us. It thrives in warm, dark, damp places. Inside a shoe is the ideal environment for it to develop. Fungal nail infection is most often caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes, who like to live on material that contains keratin, such as hair, skin, and nails. Occasionally the infection can be caused by other organisms such as molds and yeasts.

Fungal nail infection occurs when fungus gets on the skin and spreads to the skin around the nail. The infection then progresses to the skin under the nail. The nail can then become, thickened, discoloured and brittle. The shape of the nail can also be affected.

Up to 50% of suspected fungal nail infections turn out to be something else, such as damage from trauma, psoriasis etc. So before you start to treat any potential infection you need to make sure it is definitely a fungal infection!


Your podiatrist will be able to take samples to test whether a fungal infection is present, so that the most appropriate treatment can be provided.

Who gets fungal nail infection?

  • Those people who have fungal skin infection.

  • Damaged toenails are more easily infected.

  • Active, sporty people are particularly prone as they usually get hot sweaty feet.

  • People who go barefoot in communal areas.

  • Those wearing occlusive footwear that does not allow air to the feet.

  • Underlying medical conditions make some people more vulnerable such as those with diabetes, those on steroid medication, people with poor circulation or problems with their immune system.

  • Some people are very prone to fungal infection for unknown reasons.


Treating fungal nail infection

These infections do not self-resolve and always require treatment. Treatments depend on how extensively affected the nail is, and which organism is causing the infection. 

Here at Michelle Reynolds Podiatry we offer the following treatments:

  • Clearanail® - click here for more information

  • Removal of the affected toenail

  • Debridement/reduction of the affected nail plate so topical treatments can be more effective

Treatments that are available elsewhere include: laser, PACT-med, antifungal tablets.

Consult with your podiatrist who will advise you on the most appropriate treatment. To book a consultation: 

How to prevent fungal nail infection

  • Treat fungal skin infection as soon as you can to help reduce the chance of it spreading to the nails. Consult with your HCPC Registered Podiatrist for help with this.

  • Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day. Making sure you dry well between the toes.

  • Wear natural fibre socks such as bamboo which wick excess moisture away from your skin.

  • Wear clean socks each day.

  • Wash socks on a hot wash.

  • Alternate footwear so you do not wear the same pair every day, this allows them to dry out between use.

  • Do not share towels, socks, or shoes with other people.

  • Do not go barefoot in communal areas.

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