Fungal nail infection

Illustration of Fungal nail infection

A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus invades a fingernail or toenail. Causes include:

  • Walking barefoot in public places.
  • Athlete's foot infection spreading to the nails.
  • Artificial nails. Moisture can collect under artificial nails, especially if they are left on for 3 months or longer. Trapped moisture will encourage the development of a fungal nail infection. The natural nail may separate from the artificial nail.

Symptoms of a fungal nail infection include cracked, yellow, discolored, streaked, thickened, or spotted nails.

Fungal nail infections do not usually get better without treatment. The infection may spread to other parts of the nail and nail bed. Early treatment may lead to a faster cure with less permanent nail damage.

  • Home treatment may help.
  • Medical treatment for fungal nail infections include:
    • Oral antifungal medication, such as itraconazole, griseofulvin, or ketoconazole.
    • Topical application of an antifungal cream or ointment.
    • Surgical removal of the infected nail.

Illustration copyright 2000 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Last Updated: November 13, 2008

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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