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What is a Fungal Toenail?

Fungal toenails are an extremely common nail condition. It is a fungal infection of the nail plate, and possibly the nail bed. In warm and humid countries like Singapore, the warmth and humidity provide an excellent environment for fungi to thrive.

A fungal toenail may not be only on the surface but can also extend to affect the entire nail plate or nail bed, resulting in a lifting of the entire nail.

Fungi that affect nails are termed dermatophytes. They metabolise the keratin off our nails to grow and multiply. Since dermatophytes feed off keratin, it means that all our nails are susceptible to fungal infection.

Some factors that encourage the growth of fungi include:

  • Barefoot walking in communal areas
  • Failure to dry feet thoroughly and properly after activities and bathing
  • Poor foot hygiene, not frequently changing socks or drying shoes
  • Frequent use of nail polish or wearing artificial nails
  • Certain medical conditions that compromise of your immune system
  • Trauma or injury to the nail

What will I experience?

Fungal infected toenails quite often become thickened and brittle, even changing colour. If left untreated, it can become crumbly or appear porous.

Signs of a fungal infection of the toenail includes:

  • White spots on your nail
  • Thickened nails
  • Discoloured yellowish nails
  • Crumbly nail appearance
  • Involuted or curved nail plate

A fungal infection can progress and worsen. Oftentimes, individuals who have had a fungal nail for an extended period may have a deformed nail which is difficult to manage, cause pain and could become ingrown.

Furthermore, fungal infections can easily spread to other nails, or fingernails, and even the surrounding skin, causing distress due to pain, or appearance, or both.

How can we help you?

Our Podiatrist will be able to assess your condition and toenail before coming up with the next best course of action. For some simple cases, a topical over the counter lacquer together with regular podiatric nail treatment can get rid of the fungus effectively. However, if the fungal infection is persistent or more severe, your Podiatrist can perform conservative treatment using a special therapy called Photodynamic Therapy. This allows the eradication of the fungal spores without affecting the healthy tissues in and around the nail.

Speak to our Podiatrist if you are concerned about your toenail and we will do our best to help you.