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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].

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. Our podiatrist will also give general foot care and footwear advice to prevent fungal infections [2].

  • Topical treatments – our podiatrist can provide a nail lacquer which you can 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 [2]. We discuss this more during the consultation.

  • Laser therapy – unfortunately we do not provide this as the evidence for laser treatment is not strong.

  • Five minute fungal - dermatophyte test to truly diagnose an infection. This test greatly saves times waiting on result and can provide you with a quick answer. Great way to distinguish between other similar nail conditions.


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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