A persons feet

What causes a fungal nail infection and how to help treat it

Keeping your feet beautiful

What is a fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail infections are one of the more common foot problems, which can affect many people. The infection develops slowly and causes nails to become thick, brittle, discoloured and (let’s face it) not the prettiest! It’s not the best scenario come sandal season.

Onychomycosis is the medical name for a fungal nail infection, which affects toenails more commonly than fingernails. Symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:

- Discolouration of the nail

- Thickening of the nail

- A change in texture – ridges or a distorted shape 

- Brittle or crumbly nails

- Discomfort around the area

If you are unsure whether you have a fungal nail infection, speak to a member of our helpful team in your nearest Boots pharmacy.

The causes

Athlete’s foot could be to blame. This fungal skin infection can cause infections to spread to the toenails. These fungi are normally found on the feet but they can occasionally multiply and cause infections, especially in warm, dark and moist places like between the toes.

Treatments for fungal nail infections

Onychomycosis treatment isn’t always needed for a mild nail infection, as it’s unlikely to cause any further problems if you maintain good foot care. However, if you decide to treat your nail infection, then you may want to consider the following:

Antifungal nail paints – these are specially formulated paints that can be applied directly to the nail over a long period of time 

Nail softening kits – a paste is used to soften the infected parts of the nail before these can be removed with a scraping device

An infected toenail can sometimes take months or even years to clear up so prevention is key. Here are some top tips to help reduce your risk of developing a fungal nail infection:

- Keep your feet clean and wear breathable socks

- Don’t share nail scissors or clippers 

- Avoid going barefoot in swimming pools or communal areas where fungal infections can spread easily

- Try not to switch up or share towels and socks 

- If you’re partial to a pedicure, check the salon uses properly sterilised equipment

- If you have a health condition such as diabetes or psoriasis your chances of getting a fungal nail infection could be increased, so it’s even more important to maintain good foot hygiene at all times

If you need further advice, visit your local Boots Pharmacy and speak to a member of our team. They’ll be happy to help you.