A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus grows in or around your fingernail or toenail. A fungus is a primitive organism and can live on the human body, as well as the air, soil and in plants and water. Fungi can be difficult to kill, especially in nails as the fungus lives under the nail bed and many topical medications have difficulty penetrating through the nail. Curing a nail fungal infection occurs by growing new, non-infected nails and since nails grow slowly, this can take up to a year or more.
Nails with fungal infections display some or all of the following symptoms: thickening, brittleness, changes in shape and color, crumbling, loosening or lifting, loss of shine, and white or yellow streaks.
Fungal infections are most often seen in adults and often follow fungal infection of the feet. Infections occur more often in toenails than in fingernails, probably due to the fact that the fungi that cause nail infections live in warm, moist areas. Risk of nail infection increases with the following conditions if you:
- Have moist skin for a long time
- Get manicures or pedicures with tools that have been used on other people
- Have minor skin or nail injuries or deformed nails or nail disease
- Wear closed-in footwear
- Have immune system problems