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An infection of nail fungus occurs when fungi infect one or more of your nails. A nail fungal infection may begin as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the nail fungus spreads deeper into your nail, it may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges — an unsightly and potentially painful problem. An infection with nail fungus may be difficult to treat, and infections may recur. But medications are available to help clear up nail fungus.
Complications of Fungus Nails
Causes of Fungus Nails
Signs & Symptoms of Fungus Nails
You may have a nail fungal infection — also called onychomycosis (on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis) — if one or more of your nails are:
Infected nails also may separate from the nail bed, a condition called onycholysis. You may feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a slightly foul odor.
Diagnosis of Fungus Nails
Treatments of Fungus Nails
Nail fungus can be difficult to treat, and repeated infections are common. Over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments are available, but they aren't very effective. If you have athlete's foot as well as nail fungus, you should treat the athlete's foot with topical medication and keep your feet clean and dry.
To treat nail fungus, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication. Studies have shown the most effective treatments to be terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox).
Your doctor is likely to recommend oral medication if you:
These medications help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected portion of your nail. You typically take these medications for six to 12 weeks, but you won't see the end result of treatment until the nail grows back completely. It may take four months or longer to eliminate an infection. Recurrent infections are possible, especially if you continue to expose your nails to warm, moist conditions. Antifungal drugs may cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage. Doctors may not recommend them for people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or for those taking certain medications.
Other treatment options
Your doctor may also suggest these nail fungus treatments:
Prevention of Fungus Nails
To help prevent nail fungus and reduce recurrent infections, practice good hand and foot hygiene by following these steps:
When to seek Medical Advice
Once a nail fungal infection begins, it can persist indefinitely if not treated. See your doctor at the first sign of nail fungus, which is often a tiny white or yellow spot under the tip of your nail.
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