Fungal nail infections are a common problem that can affect any nail, but most commonly the ones on the feet. The infection is caused by different types of fungi, such as candida – the fungus that causes thrush, but it is most often caused by the same type that also causes athlete’s foot, called dermatophyte fungi. Fungal nail infections occur when spores of a fungus make their way between your toenail and the skin underneath (the nail-bed), and feed off of the skin or the keratin in the nail. In case you acquire a fungal nail infection you might notice that your nails seem thicker, or that they change colour slightly, or that they even start to separate from the nail bed.
There are some obvious signs of fungal nail infection to look out for. You might notice:
- Your nails start to look dull, and lose their natural shine.
- There is discolouration around the edge of the nail.
- White or yellowish spots in the middle of the nail.
- A thickening of the nail, or it becoming brittle.
- The nail crumbling and splitting, and even separating from the skin.
- Discomfort while wearing shoes, walking, or standing for time.
It’s important to act quickly if you notice any of these symptoms, if you do not treat the infection, there is a chance it will spread to other nails.
How to treat a Fungal Nail Infection
To treat an infection, an antifungal may be required, but for mild cases it can be treated with a specialty fungal nail treatment (such as Scholl Fungal Nail Treatment) – and patience.
The Scholl Fungal Nail Treatment contains hygienic disposable files that are used to remove the top layer of the nail, which gives access to the nail structure and improves its appearance. This then reveals where the fungus resides and enables you to apply the advanced formula. The formula penetrates into the nail to create an inhospitable environment for the fungus, to stop it from proliferating.
This should be done frequently to start with, filing the nail once a week and applying the liquid once a day, for the first four weeks, then continue to apply the liquid once a week for up to 9 months. The files can only be used once and should be disposed of after one use to avoid reinfection.
How to Reduce the Risk of a Fungal Nail Infection
Although it might be impossible to avoid it completely, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk, such as avoiding humid or damp conditions, for instance in your shoes. In areas where people with an infection may have been – such as communal showers, or swimming pools – wear foot protection such as flip-flops.
Additionally, it’s important to take note of any damage to the nail, as this can offer opportunity for the fungus to get into and under the nail, where it feeds off of the keratin in the nails. Consider replacing old footwear as they could be contaminated with the fungus spore.
Moreover, if you notice any symptoms of athlete’s foot, then treat this appropriately as soon as you can, as this fungus can easily spread to your nails, becoming a fungal nail infection.