Fungal Nail Infection: What You Need to Know

There are 2 major causes of fungal infections of the skin and nails: yeasts and dermatophytes. The main organism causing infections of the skin and nails is called Candida albicans. This microorganism stays quietly on your skin and does not cause any problems. Occasionally Candida albicans multiplies out of control and then causes a yeast infection. This infection can cause a red rash from which fluid can flow. Fungal nail infection can lead to pain and swelling and lifting of the tip of your finger or toenail.

Causes of fungal nail infection

You do not get yeast infections since it’s already present. A number of factors can aggravate the risk of yeast growth;

  • Overuse of antibiotics: to be able to live on us, yeasts have to compete with various other species, majority of which are bacteria. These bacteria live on the skin, in the intestines and vagina, among other places. They are safe for our bodies, but not for the yeasts they fight. When we take antibiotics to fight some less friendly bacteria, we also kill these harmless bacteria. Afterwards, yeast takes possession of the space left free by bacteria and they begin to grow and multiply.
  • Some types of cancer medications and steroids weaken the immune system and promote yeast overgrowth.
  • Diabetes and pregnancy also favor yeast infections. People with diabetes definitely have a high level of glucose in the blood and other body secretions, which promotes yeast growth. Pregnancy may lead to a temporary weight gain which weakens the immune system;
  • The risk of fungal nail infection increases if you frequently keep your hands wet.

Symptoms and complications

  • Painful swelling around your nail
  • Itching
  • Oozing on the possibly affected area.
  • In the worst cases, the nail can lift and reveal the nail bed (skin under the nail)

Treatment and Prevention of fungal nail infection

Here are some tips you can take advantage of to minimize your risk of contracting yeast or dermatophyte skin infections:

  • Wash and dry your skin well.
  • Avoid direct coming in to contact with people with dermatophyte skin infection
  • wear gloves whenever you are gardening;
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as nail clippers or socks

If you have a yeast infection or skin dermatophyte, your doctor may recommend a cream or anti-fungal powder. If the infection is extensive, persistent, or recurring, your doctor may recommend anti-fungal tablets. Fungal nail infection can be more challenging to treat. This infection usually requires an anti-fungal pill. There is also an anti-fungal nail polish for the treatment of some fungal nail infections (caused by the T. rubrum fungus) for mild to moderate cases where the fingernail is not infected.