Nail fungus is not often serious, but it can take a long time to treat and cure. Also called onychomycosis, nail fungus is caused by a dermatophyte, which is very common fungus. Yeasts and mold can also contribute to nail fungus. Because such fungi usually thrive in warm, moist atmospheres, your toenails are more likely to contract a fungus than your fingernails.
The characteristics of a nail fungus are either toenails or fingernails that are thickened, brittle, distorted, dull, ridged, and off color. Sometimes infected nails separate from the nail bed.
Nail fungus is more likely to occur in older males, it is more likely to strike if you work in a humid atmosphere, keep your feet enclosed with shoes and socks that hold sweat, are barefoot in a damp area or already have athlete’s foot. If you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or circulation issues you have a greater likelihood of having a nail fungus.
Self-care and over-the-counter treatments may help your fungus. Try antifungal nail creams and ointments. Trim your nails and use an emery board to try to thin and soften them. Once you’ve done that, try an antifungal nail cream or ointment.
If this doesn’t help with your fungus, or if you are experiencing nail pain, then see your dermatologist.
After examination and diagnosis, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral antifungal drug and/or medicated nail cream or nail polish. In severe cases, a nail might require removal.
Once your nail fungus has cleared up, a few simple practices may keep it from returning. Keep your hands and feet washed and well dried and keep nails short. Wear socks that wick moisture away and change your socks often. Discard old shoes. Routinely use an antifungal spray or power in your shoes.