Toenail and fingernail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection of the toenail and fingernail.
Fungus is everywhere so infection is common: up to 20% of the population has the condition. The main cause of fungus is that some people are just more prone than others—individual immune systems vary in their ability to fight off the infection. Patients with athlete’s foot are more likely to contract nail fungus as well.
It is common in wet, warm, damp places like:
- Public pools or showers
- Closed shoes
- Nails salons that reuse or do not sterilize instruments and basins between clients
Symptoms of Fungal Nails
- Thick nails
- Brittle or peeling nails
- Discoloration or yellowing appearance
- The nail may break or pull away from the toe
It is generally not painful, although if the toenail fungus is left untreated, the skin beneath or around the affected nail could become inflamed or infected. If that occurs, walking or even wearing shoes could become difficult.
Fungal nails are usually more resistant and more difficult to treat than Athlete’s foot. Topical or oral antifungal medications are typically better at preventing infection than treating it.
- Keep feet and toes dry, let shoes dry out between wearing, and change socks during the day if needed
- Don’t share nail clippers or nail files with others
- Have manicures or pedicures performed at medical spas that disinfect and sterilize their supplies
- Don’t share shoes or socks with others
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when you are at a public pool or shower