A fungal infection of the nail may affect part of the nail, the entire nail, or several nails.
Visible fungal nail infection signs include:
- Scaling under the nail (subungual hyperkeratosis)
- White or yellow streak on the nail (lateral onychomycosis)
- Crumbling corner or tip of the nail (distal onychomycosis)
- Flaking white areas on the nail’s surface (may include pits in the nail)
- Yellow spots at the bottom of the nail (proximal onychomycosis )
- Loss of the nail
Common fungal nail infection signs include:
- A distorted nail
- An odor coming from the infected nail
- A brittle or thickened nail
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your diet and recent use of antibiotics or medications that can weaken the immune system. Your doctor will also consider any history you may have of diabetes, cancer, HIV, or other chronic diseases. These factors can increase your risk of yeast infections.
Yeast infections are easy to identify. The yeast can be seen under the microscope after being scraped off the affected area. However, since yeast is normally there anyway, your doctor will want to confirm that it's Candida albicans causing the problem and not something else.
Dermatophyte and tinea versicolor infections can be diagnosed after scales have been scraped off and examined under the microscope.
Usually, over-the-counter products are not recommended to treat nail infections because they do not provide reliable results. Instead, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as:
You may use other antifungal treatments, such as antifungal nail lacquer or topical solutions. These treatments are brushed onto the nail in the same way that one would apply nail polish. Depending on the type of fungus causing the infection, as well as the extent of the infection, you may have to use these medications for several months. Topical solutions are not generally effective in curing toenail fungal infections.
Treatment isn’t guaranteed to rid your body of the fungal infection completely. In almost half of cases, the fungal nail infection will return.