Onychomycosis, also known as a fungal infection of the nails, occurs when nail fungi infect one or more nails on the hands or feet. You may first notice this infection beginning as a yellow or white spot under the fingernails or toenails. In more severe cases of fungal infections of the nails, the nail may look thicker than usual or begin to crumble around the edges. Nail infections can be caused by fungi that are already present within or on the body. If you have come into contact with someone else who has a fungal infection, it may spread to you. Because fungi are able to live in damp and dark conditions, fungal infections of the toenails occur more often than the fingernails. This is usually because of the amount of time that the feet are inside of shoes, which can create a dark and moist environment for fungi to thrive.
Some of the common symptoms that are a part of nail fungal infections include nails appearing dull, thick nails, separation from the nail bed, spots underneath the nails, discolored nails, brittle nails, and curling nails. Some individuals may experience that their toes or fingers around the infected nail may be painful and may also leak pus or infected liquid.
Nail infections occurs more often in men than they do in women. The infections are found more often in adults than children. People who have family members who often have these types of fungal infections are more likely to get them as well. The elderly are considered to be most at risk for getting a fungal infection of the nails because they have lower circulation levels, more exposure to fungi, or their nails grow slower and thicken as they continue to age. Additionally, if the individual has poor circulation, low immune system response, or skin injuries around the nail, it can put them at risk for nail infections. For some people, a fungal infection of the nails can be difficult to treat with success. It is estimated that medicine only treats fungus in around 50 percent of those who are affected. The nail infection is not considered to be cured until a new nail, free from infection, has grown. Although this is an indicator that the nail is not infected anymore, it may be possible for the fungal infection to return again. In more serious cases, there may be permanent damage caused to the nails, resulting in removal.