How to treat a fungal nail infection

Nail fungus is never an easy subject to broach. It can be very limiting for sufferers as it can cause embarrassment and discomfort. Noticeable symptoms include yellow or brown discolouration of the nail that will not go away on its own, while crumbly nails can break off. A musty smell can occur, too.

If the infection spreads to the area between toes, it is commonly called athlete’s foot, a condition that is contagious and easily spread by walking barefoot.

There are simple precautions you can take to prevent getting an infection or passing one on. These include wearing socks when you try on shoes in shops, and wearing pool shoes or flip-flops up to the edge of a swimming pool and in the changing rooms and shower at the gym. Most importantly, dry your feet thoroughly after bathing, including between the toes to prevent soggy skin. And don’t share towels with your family members. If you do have an infection, use a separate towel for your feet to stop it spreading.

Nail fungus is usually easiest to treat when it hasn’t gone to the root of the nail. Over-the-counter medicated treatments are usually only licensed to be used on infections that are in the top half of the nail. Many of the products sold for fungal nails are not actually medicated, but instead provide a preventative barrier for healthy nails against fungus or alter an infected nail to cause an improvement in its appearance, but do not actually kill the spores. Your podiatrist can assess which treatments are likely to work for you.

Emma McConnachie, College of Podiatry Lead Podiatrist, was speaking to Joti Birdi


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