What is a fungal nail infection?

A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin under the nail, called the nail bed. Fungi (plural of fungus) can attack your nails through small cuts in the skin around your nail or through the opening between your nail and nail bed.

If you are healthy, a fungal nail infection probably won’t cause serious problems. But it may look bad, hurt, or damage your nail or nail bed.

A fungal nail infection could lead to more serious problems if you have diabetes or a weak immune system. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat a nail infection if you have one of these problems.

 What causes a fungal nail infection?

Yeasts, molds, and different kinds of fungi can cause fungal nail infections. Most are caused by the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Fungi grow best in warm, moist places, and they can spread from person to person. You can get a fungal nail infection from walking barefoot in public showers or pools or by sharing personal items, such as towels and nail clippers. If you have athlete’s foot, the fungus can spread from your skin to your nails.

If you suspect you have a fungal nail or other foot infection, then don’t wait until it becomes overly painful or looks bad to seek treatment. These types of infection can be chronic and persistent without proper treatment. The earlier you see a doctor or get medicine the sooner you will beat the problem. Read more here in this issue of Foot Prints for further helpful information on this topic.