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Our Foot Care Blog

An ongoing series of informative foot health articles

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What is Fungal Nail Infection?

February 2021

Fungal nails are a common condition caused by similar species of fungus that cause athlete’s foot. While sometimes alarming and visually less than pleasing, fungal nails are of no long term concern for the patient, their feet, or the toes themselves. Nails may become thick, irregular, or deformed, but the fungal infection alone will not cause any harm to the patient. If left unattended, the underlying skin can become broken down or ingrown, however, this is true of any nail that has been allowed to grow uncontrolled and untreated.

Many other skin conditions may also affect the nail leading to a misdiagnosis or confusion with a fungal nail. Most often trauma of the underlying nail bed, leaving dry blood, will be confused with fungus. Diagnoses are only positively identified by fungal nail scrapings that are cultured. This is often done by a physician.

Treatment Plan

Nails with a fungal infection are typically managed by routine clipping, the reduction of irregular thickness and / or clearing of debris under the nail. The foot care provider cannot do anything to remove, kill or change the fungal infection in either a single or multiple treatment sessions. Potential resolution of the infection lies with topical, oral, or other modalities based treatments where success rates vary.

  • Oral medications have the highest success rates but also have the potential implications on liver and general health. Many people will be unable to pursue this course of treatment due to other medications being taken or liver dysfunction. Consult with your family physician.
  • Topical medications have low success rates, potential high costs, and difficult application regimens involving daily applications on the nail for approximately a year and a half. Consult with your chiropodist, podiatrist, or family physician.
  • Modalities such as laser have varied success which may include unknown long term recurrence rates and a high cost factor. Seek out local providers.

Who Gets Fungal Infections?

Everyone can potentially get a fungal infection

  • Increased likelihood of infection lies with:
  • People with a weakened immune system
  • Circulatory problems
  • Attendance of public pools, bathing areas, and locker rooms can increase exposure to fungal agents
  • Communal instruments (clippers, files) for hand and foot hygiene may promote spread without proper sterilization techniques
To chat with an experienced staff member or make an appointment with a Chiropodist, call  (905.338.4669) North Service Road Location or (905) 618-0162 - Oakville Hospital Location.
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