Fungal Nails

Fungal Nails: Free advice – ask me today!

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By Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH | GMC no. 3657058

I am a GP and a sexual health and hormone specialist. I can give advice on any medical matter, and I offer safe access to medical advice, prescription medication, blood tests and x-rays, and specialist referrals to your local private hospital as needed.

Fungal Nail Infection

 

Fungal nail infection, medically known as onychomycosis, is a non-life-threatening condition that affects a part of the nail, the entire nail or several nails.  

Most of us develop a fungal nail infection at least once in life, and although is not usually serious, it can be unpleasant and hard to treat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which nails are most commonly affected?
Onychomycosis can affect either the fingernails or toenails, but data shows that toenails are much more frequently affected and can be associated with other infections of the feet such as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)

What are the symptoms of a fungal nail infection?
  • discoloration (white, black, green or yellow)
  • distortion or thickening
  • pain or discomfort
  • strange odor
  • brittle nails or complete loss of the nail
Why does it develop?
As this condition’s name suggests, fungi are the guilty party here. They usually thrive in moist, warm environments, so the nail is a perfect medium for them to grow. The same type of fungus that cause nail infections can also cause athlete’s foot, jock itch or ringworm.

You can either acquire these fungi by direct contact with an infected person or you can already have them in or on your body. The main causes for developing a nail infection are:

  • moist and unclean feet
  • improper shoes
  • walking around barefoot in communal showers, gyms or locker rooms
  • damaged nails
  • weak immune system
  • diabetes, psoriasis or peripheral arterial disease
  • artificial nails
How can I prevent fungal nail infections?
  • Keep your hands and feet dry and clean
  • Clip your nails regularly
  • Don’t share scissors or clippers with other people
  • Be sure that the nail salon staff disinfects their tools
  • Wash your socks and towels regularly and don’t share them with others
  • Protect your feet when you enter in pools, public showers or locker rooms
  • Replace old footwear
  • Wear closed-toe shoes
  • Wear well-fitting shoes made of materials that can let your feet “breathe”
  • Use antifungal sprays or powders
  • Don’t use artificial nails or nail polish too often
Who gets nail infections more often?
Data shows that nail infections are most often developed by:

  • Men (than women)
  • Adults (than children)
  • Older adults
  • Family members
How is the onychomycosis diagnosed?
Your GP will take a scraping of your nail and put it under a microscope and look for signs of a fungus. When uncertain, your health care practitioner may have to send the sample to a lab for more detailed analysis.

How can I get my nail infection treated?
Treatment is not always needed for mild fungal nail infections; good hygiene is called into action to stop the spread.

You can talk to your GP or pharmacist if you think you developed a nail infection and they can recommend some medications like antifungal tablets, antifungal nail paints or nail softening kits.

Sometimes, your nail may be completely removed. Also, expensive laser treatments are available to destroy the stubborn fungus.

What are the complications of a fungal nail infection?
 

  • Recurrence
  • Permanent loss of the infected nail
  • Permanent discoloration
  • Spread of the infection to other areas of the body
  • Cellulitis

 

 

When can I say that my nail infection is completely cured?
Sometimes, a fungal nail infection can be difficult to cure and doesn’t wear off after the first round of medication. You can’t consider an infected nail cured until a new infection free nail has grown in. But even so, it is possible that the fungal infection to return.  

Medication

Terbinafine

Terbinafine: is an antifungal agent used to treat certain fungal infections of the toenails or fingernails. It comes in two forms: oral tablets and nail laquer. Common side effects influde nausea, diarrhea, rash or headaches. If you experience dizziness, use caution and don’t drive or perform unsafe tasks.

Itraconazole

Itraconazole: is an oral or intravenous antifungal medication used in a broader spectrum of fungal infections. It is well-tolerated and it is also prescribed for systemic infections, where other antifungal drugs were ineffective.

Antifungal nail paint or lacquer

Antifungal nail paint or lacquer: it is used to prevent and treat fungal nail infections by applying the antifungal polish or lacquer to the infected nail and the surrounding skin once a day. After 7 days, you have to remove the layers by cleaning them with alcohol. You can daily use the nail paint for up to one year for the same infected nail.

Safe, real prescriptions for Fungal Nails.

Whether you know which HRT suits you best or whether you need advice on what you should take,

ask me here about safe prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy.

Tests

Blood sugar/HbA1c

If you have recurrent problems with onychomycosis or athlete’s foot we would recommend a diabetes screen to rule out high sugars, as treating the diabetes often has beneficial effects on the foot.

Full blood screen

Occasionally, recurrent fungal infections can be associated with underlying chronic medical disease. We would recommend a blood count, inflammation marker check and kidney and liver function.

Fungal nail scrapings

If uncertain about the diagnosis, fungal nail scrapings can be performed as a confirmatory test.

Contact me now for advice, prescriptions, blood tests and referrals.

Please note that this service does not aim to replace advice given to you by your own doctor, it is meant to supplement your health knowledge and awareness.

It is never to be used in the case of a medical emergency.

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