Fungal Nail Infections

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A fungal nail infection affects the hard material (keratin) that makes up the nails.

Fungal nail infections can affect part or all of the nail, including the nail plate, nail bed and root of the nail.

The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted. The toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.

The most common sign of a fungal nail infection is the nail becoming thickened and discoloured. The nail can turn white, black, yellow or green.

Most fungal nail infections are caused by dermatophyte fungi, which also cause athlete’s foot.

Treatment isn’t always needed for mild fungal nail infections. Your GP may send a clipping of your nail for laboratory testing to discover the exact cause of the infection and rule out other conditions. They’ll then discuss appropriate treatments with you.

Fungal nail infections can be treated and usually cured, but some treatments can take several months to work. Antifungal medicines include antifungal tablets and nail paint.

FREE advice from a doctor today!

If you would like any advice on fungal nail infection, then email me a description using the box opposite and upload some photos here.


How antifungal medicines work

Antifungal medicines work by either:

  • killing the fungal cells – for example, by affecting a substance in the cell walls, causing the contents of the fungal cells to leak out and the cells to die
  • preventing the fungal cells from growing and reproducing

Types of antifungal medicines

Antifungal medicines are used in several ways, depending on your specific fungal infection. The main types of antifungal medicines include:

  • topical antifungals – applied directly to the skin, hair or nails
  • oral antifungals – which are swallowed in capsule, pill or liquid form

Dr Webberley

I am an NHS GP and I also run an online GP service. You can ask me about your nails here and send me some pictures and I can give you advice on diagnosis and treatment.

I am extremely impressed with the service I have received from my Online Dr Helen Webberley

She answered my queries concisely and quickly and in language I could understand and we are hopefully getting my problem sorted!

I would recommend this service to anyone


Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH