Just like our skin, nails and the skin around them can be affected by fungal infections (onychomycosis). It can lead to discoloured, thickened and flaky nails that can hurt and even affect walking.
The infection can occur through small cuts around the area, introduced through sharing nail clippers, towels, showers or pools or secondary to untreated athlete’s foot. To properly diagnose a fungal nail infection, your doctor may send a scraping or clipping to the laboratory.
The choice of treatment depends on the severity, number of nails affected and other health conditions present. Mild infections may respond to topical treatments, but more serious infections usually require tablets or a combination. Treatment is a time-consuming process, requiring months of use. Topical products include:
Amorolfine (Loceryl, Myconail) is applied once or twice a week to a filed nail, to expose the infection. Apply like nail polish to stop the infection spreading into new nail, until the infection can be cut from the nail (often 6-12 months).
Ciclopirox (Rejuvenail) is applied daily but there’s no need to file the nail. Miconazole (Daktarin) is also applied daily without filing and is a more cost efficient, but less effective option.
Anti-fungal tablets have higher success rates with shorter treatment times than topical paints, but may have side effects and drug interactions, so ask your pharmacist or doctor which is the right product for you. Unfortunately, even with treatment, the nail can look different after the infection, and they recur in up to 53% of cases.
Preventing fungal nail infections & recurrence
- Keep nails cool, clean and dry.
- Choose open or wide-toed shoes made from breathable, natural materials.
- Keep your nails trimmed.
- Don’t share nail clippers with others.
- Avoid nail salons, pools and hotel carpets where possible. Wear jandals or apply barrier creams for some protection.
- Treat athlete’s foot if present.