Fungal nail (onychomycosis) infections are where the nail and nail bed are invaded by microscopic organisms known as dermatophytes. This can lead to changes in the nail such as discoloration, thickening and the separation of the nail from the nail bed. The nail can also become crumbly and prone to breaking. The prevalence of fungal nail infections increases with age. Some studies report a prevalence of 15-20% in patients aged ≥40 years while in the general population the prevalence is 3-5%.
Fungal nail infections can be treated using laser therapy using laser therapy.
Anyone can get a fungal nail infection however certain groups carry a higher risk such as diabetes, psoriasis, poor circulation, a poor immune system are all known to increase the risk of contracting an infection. Smoking also increases the risk of developing a nail infection. In some cases there is no apparent reason for the infection which can occur 'out of the blue'.
How can I avoid an infection?
There is no way to guarantee avoiding a fungal nail infection however there are a few simple steps that can help to reduce the risk and improve outcomes if treatment is sought:
- Practice good foot hygiene – change socks daily, alternate footwear daily, allowing the rested pair time to air-out.
- Avoid going barefoot to ‘high risk’ locations such as changing rooms.
- See your podiatrist as soon as possible if you suspect an infection. Early treatment has a much higher success rate than leaving the condition to worsen before seeking help.