The most common
Fungal nail infections, or onychomycosis, are a recognised medical condition. They're relatively easy to pick up and can affect anyone and everyone. In fact, over a million people in the UK are thought to have a fungal nail infection, and the vast majority of these people have affected toenails.1
(Toenails are four times more likely to be affected than fingernails.1)
1. NHS Choices website: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Fungal-nail-infection/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed April, 2012)
Left untreated, fungal infections can spread to other nails and other people, so it's important to treat them straight away.
The most common fungal nail infection starts at the tip of the nail and spreads down towards the base. This type of infection can be classified as mild or severe depending on the extent of the symptoms.
Curanail is only suitable for mild fungal nail infections.
Signs of a mild fungal infection include nail:
- discolouration (white, yellow or brown)
- debris (under
Anyone can develop an infection
The human body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms, including fungi, which live harmlessly on the skin. It's only when the organisms multiply rapidly and out of control that they can form an infection.
Fungi grow easily in warm, damp environments, and those that cause nail infections usually enter the skin through cuts or tiny separations between the nail and nail bed.
Toenail infections develop because a fungal infection of the skin, like athlete's foot, isn't treated early enough. Once in the nails, the infection is much harder to treat. That's because the fungi can penetrate the lower levels of the nails where it's harder for treatments to reach.
Fingernail infections are often caused by the yeast, Candida, and are normally seen in people who have their hands in and out of water (e.g. lifeguards and pot washers). This is because the skin at the base of the nail can become damaged, and is, therefore, more likely to become infected.
Nail infections are more likely to occur with increasing age, although risk factors include:
- using cosmetic nails
- nail damage
- constant nail biting
- an underlying health condition such as poor circulation, diabetes or psoriasis
- living in a warm and humid climate
- smoking (the more cigarettes smoked a day, the higher the risk of developing a fungal nail infection)
There are many ways to help prevent a nail infection, and these include:
- keeping the hands and feet clean and dry
- avoiding shared towels or bathmats
- wearing cotton socks and leather shoes
- changing socks daily
- avoiding tight-fitting shoes
- wearing flip-flops in shared bathing areas (i.e. swimming pools and communal baths)
- treating athlete's foot early (to stop the fungi infecting the nails)
- treating infections early (before they spread to other nails or even other people)
- stopping smoking