Fungal toenails are a common problem in the UK, characterised by a change in thickness and colour of the nail (to brown, yellow, or green).
Our skin has a natural layer of fungi called dermatophytes, which live naturally on our skin. When provided with the right conditions, however, (warm, damp and dark), the fungus can multiply and become an infection. When a toe nail is damaged, a component of the nail called keratin dies. This provides the right feeding ground for the fungi to multiply. Often the damage to the nail is caused simply from back-pressure from ill-fitting shoes. Other risk factors include immune-suppressing conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or HIV, or those in which the blood supply to the toes may be reduced.
If left untreated, the fungal nails can become thick and brittle, causing the skin underneath and surrounding the nail to break down. This can become uncomfortable in shoes or socks due to the pressure on the nails. It can also lead to the development of a bacterial infection such as cellulitis.
Your GP may agree to prescribe anti-fungal tablets for your infected toes if you do not already take much medication. However, many people prefer not to take tablets unless absolutely necessary. At New Milton Foot Clinic your Podiatrist will advise you on the best treatment for your nails.