Who is at risk for fungal infections?

There are lots of different causes of fungal nail infections. Each trigger has a treatment of its own. Although lots of the causes of a fungal nail disease are preventable, some risk factors increase the chances of developing one. You are more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you:

  • Have diabetes have a disorder that causes poor circulation
  • are over age 65
  • wear artificial nails
  • swim in a public swimming pool
  • have a nail injury
  • have a skin injury around the nail
  • have moist palms or feet for an extended period
  • wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots

Nail infections occur more frequently in men than in women, and the infections are observed in adults more frequently than in children. In case you have family members that often get these kinds of fungal infections, you are more likely to get them too.

Older adults have a higher risk for getting fungal nail infections because they have poorer circulation. The nails also grow more slowly and thicken as we age.

Nail fungus disease treatment

Treatment is not always needed to get a mild fungal nail disease since it is unlikely to cause any additional problems and you may believe it is not worth treating.

Whether you choose to have treatment or not, you still ought to practise good foot hygiene (see below) to halt the disease getting worse or spreading to other people.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you are bothered by the appearance of the nail, or it is causing issues such as pain and distress. They will probably recommend:

Antifungal tablets — pills taken once or twice a day for many months

Antifungal nail paints — specific paints applied directly to the nail over several months

Nail softening kits — where a glue is used to soften infected areas of the nail, before they are removed with a scraping device

A procedure to remove the nail completely may be recommended in severe cases. Laser treatment, where a high-energy laser is used to destroy the fungus, is also an option. However, this is only available independently and can be costly.

Antifungal medicine for treating fungal nail disease

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you are embarrassed by the appearance of the nail, or it is causing issues such as pain and distress.

They will usually recommend treatment with antifungal drugs, either in the shape of tablets or a unique paint that you apply directly to the nail.

A small sample of the infected nail might have to be removed and sent for testing before treatment begins, to confirm that you do have a fungal infection.

Antifungal pills for nail fungal infection treatment

Terbinafine and itraconazole are the 2 medications most commonly prescribed for fungal nail infections.

These usually have to be taken once or twice a day for many months to make sure the infection has completely cleared up. If you stop taking the medication too early, the infection may return.

Potential side effects of antifungal pills may include itching, headache, diarrhoea, loss of sense of taste, and a rash.

Antifungal nail paint treatment for nail fungal disease

If you prefer to not take antifungal pills, your GP or pharmacist may advise you to try antifungal nail paint instead.

Nail paint is not generally considered to be as effective as pills as it can be hard for it to achieve the deeper layers of the nail. But, it does not usually cause any side effects.

Like antifungal pills, antifungal nail paint also normally has to be used for many months to make certain that the infection has cleared up.