Fungal Nail Infections | Dermatologist-Guided Treatment Options

Skin conditions aren’t the only thing that dermatologists focus on. Dermatologists also focus on conditions of the fingernails and toenails. Fungal nail infections are most common on the toenails and may be associated with a fungal infection of the feet, such as athlete’s foot. The feet are more susceptible to fungal infections because shoes hold in moisture, creating the damp, warm environment where fungi can thrive.

Fungal nail infections are more common among adults who use public swimming pools, gyms, or public showers and locker rooms. There is also a higher occurrence among people who perspire heavily. When the feet are moist for an extended period of time, it creates the opportunity for fungi to grow.

Other risk factors of nail infections include:

  • Minor skin or nail injuries
  • Nail disease or deformity
  • Getting a manicure and pedicure using tools that have been used on other people without cleaning them
  • An impaired or poorly functioning immune system
  • Wearing closed shoes, like sneakers

The symptoms of fungal nail infections

Symptoms of fungal nail infections can include: brittleness, change in nail shape or color, loosening or detachment of the nail, thickening, crumbling of the outer edges, loss of shine, and dirt trapped underneath the nail.

Steps can be taken to help prevent fungal nail infections. People should keep their feet dry as much as possible. Do not wear closed-in shoes with wet feet. Wear shower shoes or sandals at public pools, public showers, and locker rooms. Insist on clean tools when getting manicures or pedicures. Treat nail injuries and keep them clean to lessen the chance of fungi infecting the area. The best way to address nail infections is to prevent them from ever happening. These types of infections are typically difficult to treat, and require the use of medicine over an extended period of time.

Fungal infections often do not respond to over-the-counter creams. Prescription anti-fungal medicines are sometimes required to fully clear up the infection and pave the way for new, healthy nails to grow.  It’s also important to realize that not every infected nail is caused by a fungus. Only a dermatologist can determine the specific cause and the appropriate treatment of your nail infection.

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