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Nail fungus is a common occurrence and it has no restrictions of age or gender. It begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the fingernail or toenail. The fungal infection then moves deeper and causes discolouration of the nail. It can spread and affect the neighbouring nails as well.

When nail fungus affects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it is called as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).

What are the symptoms?

Nail fungus is diagnosed if one or more of your nails are thickened, whitish to yellow brown discolouration, brittle, crumbly or ragged, shape  distorted, has slight foul smell and  dark colour is seen at the sides of the nails. Nail fungus usually affect the toe nails rather than the finger nails.

What causes nail fungus?

Nail fungus is mainly caused by  dermatophyte, yeast and molds.

Fungal nail infections are more common in adults rather than children. As nails age, nails become brittle, dry, then fungi enter the resulting cracks in the nails and cause the infection. Other factors like reduced blood supply to the feet and weakened immune system also are reasons for nail infection.

Toenail infection can spread from one nail to the other nail but it is non contagious.

What are the risk factors?

Reduced blood flow to the limbs, increases the risk. Walking barefoot in damp communal areas such as swimming pools and gyms, having a minor skin or nail injury and some lifestyle diseases like diabetes are all factors that increase the chance for nail infection.

How to prevent nail fungus?

Wash hands and feet regularly, wipe off the moisture in between fingers. Trim nails straight across, smooth the edges with a file. Wear sweat absorbing socks or change it at regular intervals. Choose shoes that are made out of materials that can breathe, discard old shoes or disinfect them with antifungal powders. Give up nail polish and artificial nails. When in a nail parlour insist on well sterilized manicure tools.

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