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Why do fungal nail infections occur?

Did you know about a third of people with athlete's foot will also get a nail infection? Yes, nail infections are mainly caused by fungal skin infections and damage caused in nail or surrounding skin. Learn more about the causes of fungal nail infections here.

Fungus nail infection is one of the most common nail abnormalities, with six and eight percent of adult population suffering from it. While it can occur to anyone, men are more likely to be affected by it than women. Nail fungal infections are mainly caused by fungi that thrive in dark and damp conditions. Fungi called dermatophytes are mostly responsible for nail fungal infections. However, some yeasts and molds can also cause it.

Who gets nail fungus infections?

Infection causing fungi usually enters the skin through tiny cuts between the nail and nail bed. You can also contract the infection in salons that have sub-standard hygiene procedures. Women, who use fake nails, can get infection due to poorly applied fake nail tip. If the nail is not secured to the natural nail properly, it can become a breeding ground for infection. Using gym or public swimming pool without any foot protection can also make you vulnerable to the infection.

Weakened blood circulation, family history of fungal infection and weakened immune system due to some ailment can also raise one’s risk of contracting fungal nail infection. Increasing age also makes one more susceptible to nail infections. In some cases, it is hard to identify the real cause of infection.

Symptoms of nail infection

Nails that are infected by fungus turn brittle, dull, scaly and green or yellowish in colour. Sometimes, you experience pain when applying pressure to the nail. In severe cases the nail will lift away from the nail bed. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the nearby skin, resulting in inflammation and pain.

Can you prevent it?

You can easily avoid nail problems by taking correct precautions:

  • Avoid walking barefoot in damp public places (swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms)
  • Wear shoes and socks that allow your feet to breathe
  • Change your socks regularly and wash them in mild detergent
  • Wear well-fitting shoes that don’t cause any kind of discomfort
  • Treat athlete’s foot as it can spread to the nails and cause infection
  • Cut your nails regularly and maintain foot hygiene
  • Change your nail polish frequently
  • Wash hands after touching infected nails
  • Don’t use same nail clippers for infected and healthy nails
  • Refrain from picking or biting nails

Nail fungus infections can be unsightly and cause discomfort. But, thankfully there are topical nail infection treatments that can clear the infections painlessly.