Fungal Nail Infection

A fungal nail infection is the thickening and discolouration of the nail itself, usually turning yellow, white, black or green. Infections generally do not cause pain or discomfort, but there are remedies to treat this infection. Choose below and fill out our health questionnaire to get a treatment delivered to your doorstep!


What is a fungal nail infection?

A fungal nail infection (also known as onychomycosis) is the thickening and discolouration of the nail itself. It usually turns yellow, white, black or green. They are much more common in toenails and they become more common with increasing age. The infections do not usually cause any pain or discomfort and in most cases there will be no further complications.

Diagnosis of fungal nail infection

If you think you are experiencing fungal nail infection for the first time, you should be diagnosed by a healthcare professional. This could be a nurse, doctor or pharmacist. In more serious cases, a doctor might send a nail clipping to a laboratory to determine whether the nail is damaged or infected. If the nail is damaged, fungal treatment will not be effective.

Prevention of fungal nail infection

To help prevent fungal nail infections, you should:

  • Try to avoid injury to the nail, damaged nails are more likely to develop an infection.
  • Wash your hands and feet regularly with soap and water. Make sure you dry thoroughly, especially in between the fingers and toes.
  • Keep your nails trimmed short and file down any thickened areas.
  • If using a communal bathing or shower facility, wear footwear such as flip-flops to protect against picking up an infection.
  • Avoid towel sharing as this can pass on the infection from one person to another.
  • Replace old footwear that might potentially be infected.
  • Wear socks that absorb sweat.
  • Use an antifungal spray or powder in your shoes and socks to prevent an infection from developing.
  • Avoid using nail polish and artificial nails as this can trap unwanted moisture, which will worsen the infection.
  • Always wash your hands after touching an infected nail as the fungus can spread from nail to nail.
  • Avoid trimming and picking at the skin around your nails as this can provide germs access to your skin and nails.


Fungal nail infection is caused by dermatophyte fungi, which is the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot. The fungi can infect keratin, which is the hard material that makes up the nail. The most common cause of fungal nail infections are pre-existing fungal skin conditions, such as athlete's foot. Dermatophyte fungi thrives in damp, warm conditions, so you are more likely to suffer from infection after wearing trainers for prolonged periods, when your feet have been hot and sweaty. Factors that can cause or increase the risk of nail infection include:

  • Psoriasis or diabetes
  • Poor health or weakened immune system
  • Using cosmetic nail polishes and varnishes
  • Living in a warm, humid environment
  • Constant nail biting
  • Smoking


Treatment for fungal nail infections usually work by stopping the growth of the fungus. The fungus stops growing and the infection will clear as the nail grows out. Depending on the location and severity of the infection, it can take 6 to 12 months to completely clear.


Symptoms of fungal nail infections include:

  • White, yellow, green, black or brown discolouration of the nail
  • Thickness of the nail
  • Scaliness and/or brittleness of the nail
  • Distortion in the shape of the nail
  • Increased debris under the nail




  • Can I treat my fungal nail infection if I have diabetes?

    You should consult your GP before treating a fungal nail infection to ensure that it is definitely a fungal nail infection. It is important to rule out any complications with your infection and make sure that your symptoms are not due to uncontrolled blood sugar. It will also confirm that any treatment prescribed/purchased is safe and effective for you.

  • Can I put nail polish on an infected nail?

    You should not use nail polish on affected nails as it can make any treatment you are using less effective and it can also spread the infection from nail to nail.

  • Will I get a fungal nail infection if I have athlete's foot?

    You are more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you have athlete's foot. This is because it is the same fungus that causes both infections. Athlete’s foot is much easier to treat than a fungal nail infection, so you should treat athlete’s foot as soon as possible.

  • What should I do if I suspect a fungal nail infection?

    If your nail infection is on two or more nails you should see your GP. You should also see your GP if you suspect a nail infection if you have diabetes or if you are pregnant. If you suspect a nail infection that isn’t on 2 or more nails, you could try using an over the counter product for fungal nail infections.

  • Can my fungal nail infection get better on its own?

    No. It is unlikely that the fungal nail infection will get better on its own. The infection will most likely get worse and the nail will become thicker and more brittle. The earlier treatment is started, the quicker your nail will get back to full health.


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