Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection and Its Treatment

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fungal nail infection

Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection

Learn How to Spot Fungal Nail Infection

A fungal nail infection occurs when fungi grow around the skin of the toe or fingernails, most often the toes. It is unseemly but often not painful, though, if left, it can spread and become irritating and inflamed.

It is often contracted with athlete’s foot, another fungal infection, but can also be caused by damage to the nail and surrounding skin, as well as wearing hot and sweaty trainers.

There are several symptoms that will tell you if you have a fungal nail, they range from mild to quite serious. Most people will only show a few lesser symptoms but, if left to progress, more severe symptoms can arise which can be a hindrance to everyday life.

It takes time to develop. So immediately you can not say its fungal nail infection.

Thickened Nail

Perhaps the earliest and most obvious a sign that you have contracted a fungal nail infection is a thickening of the toenail. This happens over time and will end with the nail being considerably thicker and less supple than your other toenails.

 Though not painful, the thickened nail can get in the way when you walk and wear shoes, plus it is quite unattractive.

Nail Discolouration

Another common symptom of fungal nail infection is the nail changing colour. Often it just becomes white, like the tip, but all over the infected part.

 However, it can also go yellow or green, either all over or just in infected areas. In some extreme cases, the nail can turn black.

 If it is a particularly dark colour then it usually means that the infection is more advanced and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Brittle Nails

If fungal nail infection is not treated and is allowed to progress then you will usually find that the nail becomes much weaker and more brittle. Fungal nails break very easily and often pieces of them will flake off. The edges are also not strong and often crumble away. Despite the thickness, they are not stronger than your healthy nails and will be in bad condition.

Athlete’s Foot

Fungal nail infection is often associated with athlete’s foot; both are caused by a fungal infection and people who have athlete’s foot are more likely to develop a fungal nail infection than those that don’t have it. 

Athlete’s foot is so-called because it is most often contracted by sporting people who wear trainers that become hot and sweaty. These conditions are ideal for the fungus to grow in and are what causes athlete’s foot to occur. Fungal nail infection needs similar conditions.

An itchy and red rash is a sign of athlete’s foot; if you have this then there is quite a high chance that you have or will develop fungal nail infection.

Toe Pain

At first, a toe with a fungal nail doesn’t usually hurt. However, left alone the infection can get worse and often quite painful. This will occur in the nail and the skin surrounding it. This can mean that walking and putting weight on the foot will hurt which can be quite debilitating. If you have a fungal nail that causes you pain then you should see a doctor or podiatrist as soon as possible.

Inflammation

Another serious symptom of fungal nail infection is when the area surrounding the nail becomes inflamed. This is often combined with pain and redness. The swelling is due to the infection taking effect and can, again, be very debilitating and make it hard to walk. You may also find it difficult to wear your normal shoes as the swollen toe will press against them.

Loss of the Nail

This is a very extreme symptom and does not happen in the majority of cases. However, if a fungal nail infection is left untreated it will eventually start to disintegrate. As it gets worse pieces of the nail will eventually come away from the nail bed completely. This leaves a white or yellow patch behind which is unattractive and sometimes painful. Eventually, the whole nail could crumble away as the infection will eventually destroy the whole thing.

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.

Antifungal tablets

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.

Nail Removal

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 anaesthetic.

 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.

I hope you like our article on ‘Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection and Its Treatment’

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