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What is Fungal Nail Infection?
Fungal nail infection occurs when tiny fungi grow on the skin around and under the nail.
It causes the nail to become thicker and more likely to break.
Fungal nail infection can occur on the finger but it is more likely to be contracted on the toenails.
What are the Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection?
There are a number of symptoms that will show if you have one or more nails infected with the fungal nail.
The first sign of infection is the nail becoming a lot thicker.
It will also become discolored; most often turning white but sometimes the changing to yellow or, in severe cases, black.
If the condition becomes worse other symptoms can appear, these include brittleness of the nail, inflammation of the skin around the nail and pain in the toe.
What causes Fungal Nail Infection?
The condition is caused by a fungal infection and is most often linked to athlete’s foot.
This condition is caused by a fungal infection too and can be itchy and painful.
Athlete’s foot is so named because it usually affects sportsmen and women; this is because they wear trainers and their feet can become hot and sweaty whilst exercising, creating the ideal conditions for fungi to grow.
Similarly, people who live in hot and humid countries tend to contract the condition more frequently than those who live in cool areas.
This is due to the heat which fungi need to grow.
A fungal nail infection can also come about due to damage of the nail or skin around it; this could come from an injury or be due to fake nails, biting nails and trimming cuticles and skin.
Treatments for Fungal Nail Infection
Sometimes people choose not to treat their fungal nails if they are small, not painful and not a hindrance.
However, if not treated there is a possibility that a fungal nail infection will spread to other nails on the foot.
The main treatments for the condition are either antifungal tablets or antifungal nail paints.
Doctors will usually prescribe either terbinafine or itraconazole tablets to treat fungal nail infection.
These will both clear up the condition of the nail, plus, any other fungal infection that you may have, such as athlete’s foot.
Both medicines need to be taken over quite a long period of time, often at least three months, and must be taken regularly as prescribed to work.
The benefit of antifungal tablets is that they get into the bloodstream quickly, thus working fast on the infection.
However, some patients do experience side effects, including nausea and headaches. This is rare but it may make you want to consider using nail paints instead.
Antifungal Nail Paints
Amorolfine nail lacquer is an alternative treatment to tablets and is applied, like nail polish, to the infected nail.
It works directly on the area and is particularly effective on fungal infections that are nearer the tip of the nail.
The paint does have to be applied over a longer period of time than the tablets have to be taken, sometimes up to a year, to combat the fungal infection.
This treatment does not always work as well as antifungal tablets but it has the benefit of not giving the patient unwanted side effects.
In rare circumstances, such as a particularly bad case of fungal nail infection or continued reoccurrence of the condition, the nail will be removed. This consists of an operation that is performed under local anesthetic.
You will have to take antifungal medicine as well as you recover. The benefit of nail removal surgery is that, without a nail, you won’t contract a fungal infection on that toe again.
However, you may not like the way your foot appears without a nail and it is the last resort option.