We know: All About Nail Infections

What's a nail infection?

Most nail infections are fungus infections. The onset of these infections is usually a small yellow or white area appearing under the tip of the toenail or fingernail. Eventually, the infection may spread, causing the nail to get thicker, change color and chip along the edges. Your nail may also loosen and produce an odor.

What causes nail fungus infections?

Fungus infections often develop when your nails are continually exposed to warmth and moisture from sweaty socks or steamy baths and shower areas, or swimming pools. Fungi get into small cracks between your skin and nail and grow.

Are nail infections dangerous?

They can be, especially for people with diabetes or weak immune systems. If you don't stop the infection, it can spread beyond the initial nail area. At the first sign of infection, it's a good idea to see your doctor.

What are some of the treatments available for nail infections?

Treatments include:

  • Over the counter creams and ointments.
  • Prescription drugs that are usually taken by mouth and help heal the infection and begin repairing the nail over several months. These products include Lamisil, Diflucan and Sporanox.
  • Prescription ointments or lacquers such as Penlac that you apply to the nail. And topical medications like Oxistat and Spectazole.

What can I do to avoid fungal infections?

  1. Stay away from warm, moist places and don't go barefoot in these areas.
  2. Wear shoes that 'breath' and dry socks.
  3. Don't apply substances like polish to your nails.
  4. Don't touch the infected nail without cleaning your hands because infections can be spread from nail to nail.

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