“Fungus” is a word that tends to creep people out, especially when that fungus is on or in their body. Nail fungus, also known as “onychomycosis,” is an infection of a toenail or fingernail caused by a fungus. Toenail fungus is more common than a fungus in fingernails, and the big toe’s nails are most often affected. Not all fungal infections are the same though, and some can become serious, so it’s good to know what to look out for.
What are the signs and symptoms of nail fungus?
Nail fungus often starts as a white or yellow spot under your nail, which then can enlarge as the fungus spreads. The infected nail may then discolor, thicken, change shape or lift up. Fungal infections often turn the nail white or yellow-brown. Debris can also build up under the nail and cause it to look black. Any trauma to the nail can cause bleeding under the nail, which can also make it look black.
A fungal nail infection also tends to change the shape of the nail and make the nail become brittle or cracked. Some people also report discomfort or pain with fungal nails, especially when wearing shoes or walking for a long time. It is also possible for the nail to separate from the nail bed.
Causes and Risk Factors for Nail Fungus
You may be more likely to get toenail fungus if you:
- Are frequently in moist environments like pools, locker rooms or saunas
- Wear tight-fitting shoes or sneakers or have sweaty feet
- Have athlete’s foot
- Have damaged nails
Some people are more at risk of getting nail fungus than others. You might be more at risk if you:
- Are of an older age, due to slower growing nails or reduced blood flow
- Have diabetes or a weakened immune system
- Live with a family member who has nail fungus
Do I Need to See a Doctor?
If you have diabetes or poor circulation and think you see nail fungus forming, call your doctor because you could be at risk of complications. While most fungal nail infections in otherwise healthy individuals do not cause complications, if left untreated, the fungus may worsen and spread to other nails. Talk to your doctor about self-care steps you can take while being treated with prescription drugs, to help keep other nails from becoming infected or improve the appearance of the infected nail, such as keeping your feet dry and using Kerasal® products.
Kerasal® Fungal Nail Renewal™ can help improve the appearance of nails damaged or discolored by fungus. It helps normalize the thickness of the nail, reduce discoloration, and is formulated to hydrate the nail so it’s less brittle.