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Fungal nail infection

What causes it?

A fungal nail infection (known medically as onychomycosis) causes changes in the colour and thickness of the nail [1].

What is it?

Fungal nail infection shown by infection of the big toe nail being yellow, thick and crumbly

Fungal nail infections usually occur as a result of athlete’s foot. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can multiply and attack the nail. Fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist environments, so it is important to wash and dry your feet properly [1]. In some cases, medical conditions such as diabetes and psoriasis, or any medications weakening the immune system, can contribute to fungal nail infections [2]. Nails which have become damaged through trauma can also become fungal infected. Once a nail has become fungal the condition will deteriorate and can spread to other nails, it will not recover without some form of treatment.

What are the symptoms?

What podiatry treatments are available?

The nail may go yellow, brown or green. It will usually get thicker and may become brittle or crumbly [1].

  • Reducing the thickness – this will be carried out using a nail drill and will improve the appearance of the fungal nail temporarily. Our podiatrist will advise on general foot care to prevent fungal infections [2].

  • Topical treatments – We can recommend a nail lacquer which you paint onto your fungal nail at home. It can take 12 months to work [2].

  • Oral treatments – these can be prescribed by your GP, though effective they can can have side effects such as constipation, liver or kidney damage[2]. .

  • LUNULA Laser therapy – available nowA pain-free procedure which uses laser light to target fungi organisms and improve your nail condition. The evidence base for Lunula laser is great, and before and after results are promising.

  • Five minute fungal test - a dermatophyte test to truly diagnoses a fungi infection. Avoid long waiting times, we can provide you with a quick answer with our 'in-house' 5-minute test. This is great way to distinguish between other similar nail conditions. You can book for this online through the booking portal.


1.     Coughlin, M.J. (1994) Abnormalities of the toenail. In: DeLee, J.C., Drez, D, eds. Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 1878-1891.

2.     Springett, K. and Johnson, M. (2010) The skin and nails in podiatry. In Frowen, P, O'Donnell M, Lorimer D & Burrow G. Neale's disorders of the foot. 8th edition. Churchill Livingstone, Elseview, Philadelphia.

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