Sounds awful doesn’t it: fungus. Yuck! This is an infection along the lines of athlete’s foot in that it can happen to anyone, no matter how particular they are about personal cleanliness and grooming.
It’s caused by organisms that find their way underneath a nail. You can pick it up at a beauty salon (if they aren’t cleaning tools properly), at the gym, public showers, etc.
People who are more susceptible to it are those whose feet sweat regularly, have diabetes, poor circulation or are elderly but it’s not uncommon to pick it up after some sort of chipping, splitting or damage has occurred.
Is it contagious? Yes, it can travel from one finger or toe to the next and from person to person. If you have it, wear shoes when using public showers and locker rooms and don’t share clippers or other grooming tools.
How to tell if your nail has it:
- Color will likely change to yellow, brown or even black, may have white streaks or patches.
- It can become brittle, ragged and flaky or become quite thick.
- Can smell funky or is painful.
Confirming an infection: Your doctor will do a scraping for testing.
Home Remedies To Try
Because the fungus lives and thrives underneath the nail, it’s difficult to treat topically. Your doctor will likely prescribe medicine to help your body fight off the infection. If that doesn’t work for you or isn’t an option, you can try the suggestions listed below. Keep in mind that these won’t cure it but they can help contain the fungi so that new nail growth won’t be affected. Regular treatment can take months before you are free of it (as the old infected part grows out).