Fungal nail infections are no small problem – they’re currently affecting more than one in ten Australians! While fungal nail infections aren’t typically dangerous to your health, we see many patients who are unhappy with the ‘infected’ look of their toenails and worry about spreading the infection to their loved ones through sharing showers, socks and bedding.
What does a fungal nail infection look like?
Fungal infections get worse over time. Initially, you may notice a white or yellow spot or streak on one or multiple toenails. The nail may then become brittle and flaky, starting to catch on your socks. The discolouration tends to spread across the nail, leaving the majority (if not all) of the toenail looking yellow or white.
Some nails thicken, others lift up, creating a space between the nail itself and the nail bed beneath. At this stage, it is much harder to treat the infection compared to the initial stages as it is more difficult to reach all of the fungus beneath the nail to prevent re-infection.
How did I get a fungal nail infection?
Fungus is an organism that spreads through spores in the air and by direct contact. Not everyone that comes in contact with fungus will contract the infection, if the body fights the infection and does not allow it to take hold. Many people do contract it, however, especially those that are sick, have an impaired immune system, or the nails have been weakened through injury or other means.
Once the fungus takes hold, it feeds on the keratin in your nail. Your lifestyle may put you at a higher risk of contracting the infection, as fungus thrives in dark and moist environments, like closed-in-shoes, public swimming pools, gym changing rooms, nail salons and more.
How do you treat fungal nail infections?
After discussing your infection history to rule out the changes occurring as a result of another problem (like psoriasis or trauma to the nail), we’ll discuss the best topical (surface) treatments to use for both your toenails and the surrounding skin. We’ll then give you our instructions on how to help manage your fungal nail infection at home and reduce the risk of it spreading to others in your household.