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Fungal Nail Infection

Check if it’s fungal

Fungal nail infection usually affects your toenails but you can get them on your fingernails too.

Check the following:

  1. It usually starts at the edge of the nail
  2. It then often spreads to the middle. The nail may become discoloured and lift off
  3. The nail becomes brittle and pieces can break off. The infection can cause pain and swelling in the skin around the nail
Fungal nail inection - close up of forefoot
Fungal nail infection – oncymycosis

Treatment of fungal nail infection

Speak to a podiatrist if the look of your nail bothers you or if it’s painful.

They may suggest:

  • antifungal nail cream or spray – it can take up to 12 months to cure the infection and doesn’t always work
  • nail-softening cream – used for 2 weeks to soften the nail so the infection can be scraped off

The infection is cured when you see healthy nail growing back at the base.

Other treatments

Laser treatment uses laser to destroy the fungus.

You’ll have to pay for it as it’s not covered by the NHS. It can be expensive. There’s little evidence to show it’s a long-term cure as most studies only follow patients for 3 months.

Prevention of fungal nail infection

Fungal infection may develop when your feet are constantly warm and damp. You’re more likely to get an infection if you wear trainers for a long time and have hot, sweaty feet.

Do's and Don'ts


  • Treat athlete’s foot as soon as possible to prevent spread to nails
  • Keep your feet clean and dry

  • Wear clean socks every day

  • Wear flip flops in showers at the gym or pool

  • Throw out old shoes


  • Wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty

  • Share towels

  • Wear other people’s shoes

  • Share nail clippers or scissors