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An infection of nail fungus occurs when fungi infect one or more of your nails. Nail fungus usually begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the nail fungus spreads deeper into your nail, it may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and develop crumbling edges — an unsightly and potentially painful problem.
Infections of nail fungus account for about half of all nail disorders. These infections usually develop on nails continually exposed to warm, moist environments, such as sweaty shoes or shower floors. Nail fungus isn’t the same as athlete’s foot, which primarily affects the skin of the feet, but at times the two may coexist and can be caused by the same type of fungus.
An infection with nail fungus may be difficult to treat, and infections may recur. But medications are available to help clear up nail fungus permanently. Signs and symptoms
You may have a nail fungal infection if one or more of your nails are:
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Distorted in shape
- Flat or dull, having lost luster and shine
- Yellow, green, brown or black in color, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Infected nails may also separate from the nail bed. You may even feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a slightly foul odor.
Nail fungus can be difficult to treat, and repeated infections are common. Over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments are available, but they aren’t very effective. Fortunately, other treatments have been introduced during the last 10 years. Oral medication may sometimes be necessary.