What is Fungal Nail Infection?
Written by Glenn Rosenberg   
Thursday, 15 October 2009

A fungal nail infection is a condition in which a fungus or yeast infects the nails.

What is going on in the body?
A fungal nail infection is usually caused by a fungus called Trichophyton.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Fungal skin infections, such as athlete's foot, often lead to fungal nail infections. It is most common in adolescent and adult males and is rare in women and children under age 12. The fungus that causes the infection lives in warm, moist environments such as showers and locker rooms. A person is more likely to develop a fungal infection if he or she:
- doesn't dry feet well after swimming or bathing
- has sweaty feet
- walks barefoot in locker rooms and showers
- wears tight shoes and socks

What are the treatments for the infection?

Treatment of a fungal nail infection includes the following:
- trimming and thinning the nail plate
- taking an oral antifungal medicine, such as terbinafine
- removing the nail temporarily and treating the area underneath with an antifungal ointment

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Antifungal ointments may cause an allergic reaction. Oral antifungal medications may cause stomach upset or allergic reaction.

What happens after treatment for the infection?

Antifungal medications are expensive and require monitoring by the healthcare provider for the length of treatment. Once the medicine is stopped, it may take several months before the nail plate is cleared of the fungus. The fungus can, and often does, return. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.