• Nail fungus is an infection that occurs when fungi infect your finger or toe nails. It might start as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail. Nail fungus is sometimes difficult to treat and may recur, but medications are available to clear the infection.


    You may have a nail fungal infection if your nails are thickened, brittle or ragged, distorted in shape or are dull or a dark color. You may feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a foul odor if the infection spreads.


    Infections are usually caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes, although yeasts and mold can also be a cause. These microscopic organisms live in moist, warm areas and invade your skin through tiny cuts or small separations between your nail and nail bed.


    Nail fungus is more common in older adults and affect men more than women, particularly those with a family history of the infection. Other contributing factors include heavy sweating, working in humid or moist environments, psoriasis, athlete's foot, having a minor skin or nail injury or diabetes.


    Nail fungus can be difficult to treat and repeated infections are common. Over-the-counter creams and ointments are available, but according to the Mayo Clinic, they are not very effective. Your doctor may prescribe oral or topical medications, or an anti-fungal nail polish.


    The key to preventing a nail fungal infection is keeping your hands and feet dry. Some tips include wearing rubber gloves if you are going to expose your hands to excessive moisture, avoiding going barefoot in public places such as locker rooms and wearing synthetic socks that repel moisture.


    Mayo Clinic

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