Nail Fungus Infection: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Nail fungus infection, also known as tinea unguium and onychomycosis, is one of the most common nail infections to occur.  The fungal infection can affect either the toenail or fingernail. These infections develop over time and most often the symptoms can be most subtle to notice.

Toenail fungus infections are more common than fingernail fungus infections. The nail infection occurs due to fungi overgrowth on or under the nail. Fungal nails are not contagious. Transmission from one person to the other only with constant intimate contact.


A group of fungi known as dermatophytes causes nail fungal infections. Trichophyton rubrum is the most common dermatophytes that causes the infection. Molds and yeasts can also cause these infections.

Nail infection can develop in people of all age groups, but it is most common among older adults. With age, nails become dry and brittle and can easily crack. The cracks enable the fungi to enter and infect the nail.


  • Scaling under the nail.
  • Foul odor coming from the infected nail.
  • Thick or brittle nail.
  • White or yellow streaking.
  • Yellow spots at the bottom of the nail.
  • Infected nails can separate from the nail bed.

The nail infection can cause considerable pain the toenail and fingernail region.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The debris under the nail is scrapped and examined to diagnose the infection. The diagnosis needs to be done carefully as several other infections have similar symptoms.

After the diagnosis is complete, the treatment starts with oral antifungal medications. Over the counter medications are also available for the treatment. The treatment can take a few months before the infected nail is replaced with a healthy nail.

The fungus infection can be prevented by keeping the nails short and clean. Wash hands after touching infected nails. Refrain from biting nails. Ensure that you manicure or pedicure only with sterilized equipment.

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