Onychomycosis – (Fungal nail).
How do you get a fungal nail infection ?
Fungal nail infections often arise from a fungal skin infection. For example, athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection of the toes. This might spread to the toenails if the skin infection is not treated early. Fingernail infection might occur after a toenail infection has become established. The fungus can spread to a finger if you scratch your itchy toes and toenail. Fingernail infections are also more likely to occur if you wash your hands frequently, or have them in water a lot. For example, if you are a cook or a cleaner. Constant washing can damage the protective skin at the base of the nail. This could allow fungi to enter. A nail that has recently been damaged is also more likely to become infected. You have an increased risk developing a fungal nail infection if you have various other conditions. For example, diabetes, psoriasis, poor circulation, a poor immune system (for example, if you have AIDS or are on chemotherapy), or general poor state of health. Nail infections are more common in people who live in hot or humid climates. Smoking also increases the risk of developing a nail infection. Finally in some cases there is no apparent reason.
What are Fungal nails ?
Often the infection is just in one nail, but several may be affected. At first the infection is usually painless. The nail can look thickened and discoloured (often a greeny-yellow colour). Commonly, this is all that occurs and it often causes no other symptoms. However, it can look unsightly. Sometimes the infection becomes worse. White or yellow patches can appear where the nail has come away from the skin under the nail (the nailbed). Sometimes the whole nail comes away. The nail can become soft and crumble. Bits of nail can fall off. The skin next to the nail could be inflamed or scaly. If left untreated, the infection might even eventually destroy the nail and the nailbed, and could become painful. Walking could become uncomfortable, if the toenail became bacterially infected and swollen.
A selection of fungal infected nails.