What is nail fungus?
Onychomycosis is the medical term for nail fungus. It is typically caused by an infection to the nail by one of several dermatophytes or candida. Aging is the most common risk factor for onychomycosis due to diminished blood circulation, longer exposure to fungi, and nails which grow more slowly and thicken, increasing susceptibility to infection. Nail fungus tends to affect men more often than women, affecting ten percent of the population. Often an injury to the nail or compromised immunity contributes to susceptibility. Topical treatment is much safer than oral antifungal medication which can damage the liver.
The most common symptom of a fungal nail infection is the nail becoming thickened and discoloured: white, black, yellow or green. As the infection progresses the nail can become brittle, with pieces breaking off or coming away from the toe or finger completely.
You can be exposed to nail fungus at a salon, swimming pool or gym. Do not share nail clippers with other family members who have it. Athlete’s foot or tinea pedis is a fungal infection of the skin, easier to treat.