Anybody can get a fungal nail infection. This can be both painful and uncomfortable but can also look very unattractive, leaving you feeling self-conscious of your appearance. Read our advice and tips on how to spot the signs of infection, what can cause it, plus how to treat the infection and prevent it in future.
How to Treat Fungal Nail
Fungal nail infections are a common problem that can affect any nail, but most commonly the ones on the feet. It occurs from the overgrowth of fungi under, or on the nail. Spores of a fungus make their way between your toenail and the skin underneath the nail bed and feed off the skin or the keratin in the nail. Although not usually serious, it can be unpleasant and cause the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
To give it its medical name, Distal Subungual Onychomycosis (DSO) is the most common type of fungal nail infection. DSO infects the skin under the end of the nail bed and in the nail. The nail may end up crumbling and splitting, and separate from the skin. The nail often turns yellow or brown.
Another type of fungal nail infection is White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO). WSO can be seen in the top layer of the nail, initially forming white spots on the surface. After some time, the surface of the nail may become covered with a crumbly, chalky powder. However, the nail will not thicken and separate from the skin.
What does fungal nail look like?
Healthy nails are smooth, pinkish and have a thin white stripe on the tip. Here are some obvious signs of fungal nail infection that you should look out for:
1. Your nails start to look dull, and lose their natural shine.
2. There is discolouration around the edge of the nail.
3. White or yellowish spots in the middle of the nail.
4. A thickening of the nail, or it becoming brittle.
5. The nail crumbling and splitting, and even separating from the skin.
6. 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 worsen and spread to other nails.
Onychomycosis, a fungal nail infection, is caused by a fungus under the nail surface. If you have cuts in the skin around your nail, or between your nail and nail bed, the fungus uses these breaks in the skin to attack your nails.
The funguses are highly contagious and grow and spread in moist, warm environments, such as communal swimming pools, showers or gyms. Not keeping your feet clean and dry, as well as wearing shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty, can make it more likely that you get a fungal nail infection. If you have athlete’s foot, this can spread to the toenail and give you a fungal nail infection and vice versa. Also, if you have a damaged toenail, this can increase the risk. It can spread from person to person through direct contact or through carpets, socks, shoes and stockings.
How to Reduce the Risk of a Fungal Nail Infection
Although it is impossible to eliminate the risk of developing fungal nail infection, there are things you can do to reduce it.
• Protect your feet from direct contact with the floor in swimming pools, showers and changing rooms by wearing pool slippers or flip-flops.
• Keep your feet dry by wearing well-fitting, breathable footwear and socks that absorb perspiration, changing them often, especially in warm weather.
• Don’t share towels and socks with other people and ensure your towels are washed regularly
• Consider replacing old footwear as they could be contaminated with the fungus spore.
• 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.
Mild fungal nail infection can be treated with Scholl Fungal Nail Treatment which creates an unfavourable environment for fungi on infected nail beds. The Scholl Fungal Nail Pen 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 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.
Treatment of a fungal nail infection can take a long time and lots of care to make sure you avoid infecting healthy toenails:
• Always wash your hands after touching an infected nail
• Sterilise the tools used for pedicures by cleaning them thoroughly under hot water or using alcoholic wipes