10 Signs of a Fungal Nail Infection and its treatment

Apr 21, 2024 | footcare blog

Fungal nail infections, also known as onychomycosis, are common conditions that can affect either the fingernails or toenails. They are often painless at the beginning and hence may go unnoticed until the condition worsens. For this reason, it’s important to be familiar with the signs of this condition. In this blog post, we’ll discuss in detail 10 signs of a fungal nail infection.

1. Change in Colour

One of the first signs of a fungal nail infection is a change in the colour of the nail. It usually starts off as a small white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail. As the infection progresses, the entire nail may turn yellow, brown, or green. In some cases, the nail may also become darker due to debris building up under the nail. It’s worth noting that not all colour changes are due to fungal infections. Conditions like nail bruising or psoriasis can also cause discoloration so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis.

2. Thickening of the Nail

Another common sign of a fungal nail infection is thickening of the nail. As the fungus grows and spreads, it can cause the nail to thicken and become distorted. The nail may become so thick that it’s difficult to trim with regular nail clippers. This can make it difficult to take care of the nails and can cause discomfort, especially when wearing tight shoes.

3. Crumbling of the Nail

Crumbling of the nail is a sign that the fungal infection is advanced. The nail may start to crumble at the edges, or may even crumble entirely. This is due to the fungi damaging the nail structure, making it brittle and crumbly. It’s important to remember that it’s a sign that the infection needs to be treated.

4. Nail Distortion

A fungal infection can cause the shape of the nail to distort. The nail may curve inward or outward, leading to an abnormal shape. This can also make the nail difficult to trim and can lead to discomfort.

5. Foul Odour

Advanced fungal infections can sometimes produce a foul odour. This is due to the fungus producing waste products which can smell unpleasant.

6. Pain

While fungal nail infections are often painless at first, as the infection progresses, it can cause discomfort or pain, especially when pressure is applied to the nail. Pain is a sign that you should consult with a healthcare professional to get the infection under control.

7. Nail Lifting

The nail may start to lift off the nail bed, which can create a space under the nail where dirt and debris can accumulate.

8. Separation of the Nail

In some cases, the nail may separate from the nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis. This can cause the nail to appear loose or detached.

8. Slow Growth

Fungal nail infections can slow the growth of the nail. If you notice that your nail is growing slower than usual, it could be a sign of a fungal infection.

9. White Streaks

Some people with fungal nail infections may notice white streaks or spots on the surface of the nail.

Treatment of a fungal nail infection

There are multiple treatment options for fungal nail infections depending on the severity of the infection:

  • Over-the-counter treatments: These include antifungal creams and ointments available without a prescription. They may be effective for mild infections.
  • Topical Antifungal Creams: These are applied directly to the infected nail and surrounding skin. They may be effective in treating mild to moderate infections.
  • Oral Antifungal Medications: These are taken by mouth and can help to clear the infection more quickly than topical treatments. They are often used for more severe infections and would be available by visiting your GP in the UK.
  • Medicated Nail Polish: This is a prescription treatment that is painted onto the infected nail and surrounding skin, like a nail polish. It releases antifungal medication over time.
  • Laser Therapy: This uses light to kill the fungus in the nail. It is usually used for more severe or stubborn infections.
  • Surgical Treatment: In severe cases, the infected nail may need to be removed surgically. This allows for direct application of an antifungal drug to the infected nail bed. You can find out more about nail surgery provided by Appleton Footcare here.
  • Home Remedies: Some people find success with home remedies. However, these treatments are not scientifically proven to be effective and may not be effective for advanced infections. Keeping feet clean, dry and moisturised and wearing well fitted shoes and cotton socks will always help maintain good foot health.

People with diabetic foot should always seek medical advice as a fungal nail infection could lead to more serious conditions such as a foot ulcer.

Lucuna treatment for fungal nail infections

At Appleton Footcare we use the Lacuna Method, which targets the infection at its source, preventing it from spreading and helping the damaged nail regrow.

We will make micro holes in the nail plate with a small micro burr drill, so the Lamisil anti-fungal spray can penetrate the nail plate and reach the nail bed. The patient will then apply the same fungicidal spray daily at home, and come back to the clinic for a 6-8 week review with to check the infection has cleared and the nail is healing. The treatment is carried out in the clinic by a qualified podiatrist, registered with The Health Care & Professionals Council (HCPC).

Conclusion

Fungal nail infections are common and can affect anyone. By familiarising yourself with the signs of a Fungal Nail Infection such as change in colour, thickening of the nail, and crumbling of the nail, you can identify an infection early and seek appropriate treatment. If you suspect that you may have a fungal nail infection, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. Early detection and treatment can help to prevent the infection from worsening and causing further damage to the nail.

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