Fungal Nails

Fungal Nails

Fungal nail infection is more common in young people who share the common showers and people aged over 60. The nails become thick which can be painful. Medicines work well on this and clear the infection in several weeks.

  • Spread from fungal skin infection
  • Antifungal tablets will often clear a fungal nail infection

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Fungal infection of nails is also known as tinea unguium. It thickens the nails which can be painful. Toenails are affected more than fingernails. People over 60 years of age and young adults who share common showers or pools are more prone to this infection.

The fungal infection is usually on one nail but others may be affected. It can get worse if not treated soon. When the nail comes away from the skin, white or yellow patches are seen. The nail may become soft and crumble and the surrounding skin may be scaly. This needs treatment else it can damage the entire nail.

Common symptoms are:

  • Thickening of the nails
  • Discoloration
  • Painful nails
  • Looks unsightly
  • Scaling under the nail
  • Crumbling corner or tip of the nail
  • White patches on the nail
  • Loss of the nail


There are various causes which lead to a fungal nail infection. Many causes are preventable but can become serious and spread. A nail infection is more common in men than in women. It is contagious and found more in older adults than in children.

You may get a fungal nail infection if you:

  • are diabetic
  • are over 65 years
  • wear artificial nails
  • smoke
  • have a disease that causes poor circulation
  • use public swimming pool
  • have a nail injury
  • wear tight shoes
  • weak immune system
  • have an injured skin around the nail
  • have moist fingers or wash your hands frequently
  • have psoriasis
  • have poor circulation
  • live in a hot and humid climate
  • have the infection in one of the nails; it spreads
  • have a fungal skin infection

Types Of Treatment

NO Treatment

If the infection is mild and causes no major symptoms, it can be left untreated. It is usually painless and causes no concern. Treatment of a fungal nail infection does not always cure the condition. 60-80% of success rate is observed. Moreover, after the treatment, the nail’s appearance is not usually restored. But treatment is required if the symptoms are severe and painful. Some of them could be:

  • Medications

Antifungal medicines are used to treat a fungal nail infection. These also take care of fungal skin infections, if any. The medicine will depend on the type of the fungus which causes the infection. There are some side effects as well, so read the patient leaflet before taking the medicine. According to many studies, medicines work 50% in bringing back the normal nail appearance. However, in some cases, the infection may disappear but the nails may not regain its texture and appearance. Fingernails tend to respond better to medicines than toenails.

There are two medicines which are usually very effective for fungal nail infections. They are:

Itraconazole Tablets – The usual adult course is of 200 mg twice a day for 7 days. A repeat course is also prescribed after 21 days. Fingernail infections require 2 pulsed courses while toenail infections need at least 3.

Terbinafine Tablets – For fingernails, the usual adult course is of 250 mg daily for 6 weeks to 3 months. Whereas, for toenails, the duration of the course extends to 3-6 months. Improvement can be seen after 2 months in the first case and after 3 months in the latter.

  • Antifungal Nail Paint

A nail lacquer contains an antifungal medicine which is known as amorolfine. This is not as effective as medicines, but your doctor may prescribe if your infection can be cured. The amorolfine nail lacquer is may work if the infection is at the end of the nail. The usual course may extend up to 6 months for fingernails and a year if you are treating toenails.

There are ways to prevent the fungal nail infection.

  • Get your manicure and pedicure done from a trustworthy salon
  • Use antifungal sprays
  • Wash your hands after contact with infected areas
  • Dry your feet well after showers
  • Do not share towels
  • Wear moisture absorbing socks
  • Reduce the use of nail polish
  • Avoid being barefoot in public places
  • Avoid nail injury
  • Replace old footwear

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Questions & Answers

Is a Fungal Nail Infection contagious?

YES. If you have a Fungal Nail Infection in one of your nails, it can spread to several nails.

Who is affected the most by a Fungal Nail Infection?

Young people and older adults are more prone to this infection.

Can a Fungal Nail Infection be prevented?

YES. There are means and ways to prevent this infection. Read the ‘Types of Treatment’ section of the condition ‘Fungal Nail Infection’.

Is a Fungal Nail Infection painful?

YES. A severe condition of a Fungal Nail Infection can be painful.

What kind of medicine work for a Fungal Nail Infection?

Usually, antifungal medicines are prescribed for a fungal nail infection. The medicines will depend on the type of infection you have.

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at

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