Fungal Nail Infections


What is a fungal nail infection? 4-6

Onychomycosis (pronounced ON-E-CO-MY-CO-SIS), is a fungal nail infection affecting up to 20% of adult Australians. The condition can affect both toenails and fingernails; however toenail infections are more common. It is important to treat fungal nail infections as they may become worse or spread if left untreated.

What can cause a fungal nail infection? 5,7

Sporting venues such as swimming pools and gym showers may contain organisms that can contribute to fungal nail infections.

Other factors may include wearing tight shoes, injury to the nail, advancing age and pre-existing medical conditions. Early treatment of a fungal nail infection is important so that the condition does not progress and cause pain and discomfort.

What are the early signs of a fungal nail infection? 5,7,8

The most common clinical symptoms of onychomycosis are discolouration of the nail, hyperkeratosis (thickening of the nail) and brittle nails.

The infected nail can exhibit a yellowish-brown appearance. Fungal-infected nails can become thickened and distorted and may cause pain and discomfort particularly when wearing shoes.

Who is at risk of developing a fungal nail infection? 5,9

There are several factors that may increase the risk of developing a fungal nail infection.
These include:

  • poor circulation
  • elderly
  • wearing footwear that is closed-in and has poor ventilation
  • working in a humid or moist environment
  • vigorous physical activity
  • swimming pools
  • gymnasiums
  • repeated nail trauma

People involved in sporting activities such as running may have an increased risk of getting a fungal toenail infection because they may often damage their toenails, which provides an opening for infections to get under the toenail. Also, wearing running shoes means that the feet are often exposed to warm, moist conditions, which are ideal for the development of a fungal infection.

People who frequently have wet hands, such as cooks and professional cleaners, may also have an increased risk of developing a fungal infection of the fingernails.

Fungal nail infection affects up to 20% of adult Australians

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