Symptoms and Causes of Fungal Nail Infection

Fungal nail infection can afflict your fingernails and/or toenails. The nails get disfigured, thick, discolored and may also split as a result of this infection. When you first get the fungal infection, you may find it a cosmetic irritant. However, as the infection progresses, your toenails become thick and get pressed inside your shoes, leading to pain, excessive pressure and discomfort. On the hand, the infection can lead to problems at your workplace, socially and psychologically.

According to dermatologists, half of all nail-related problems are due to fungal infections, making it one of the most prevalent nail diseases in the United States. Today, it has been observed more people are being diagnosed with this infection and many health experts believe this because the infection is related to increasing age, suppressed immunity and diabetes. Adults are more likely to get nail fungus compared to children, as more than 90 percent of seniors and the elderly have been found to be afflicted by this infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection

Unfortunately, when you toenails first get the fungal infection, you will not suffer from any symptoms. Most people visit doctors because they are worried about the way their nails appear rather than actually experiencing pain or some other problems. And, they want the apt nail fungus removal treatment. However, as the infection progresses, you will notice some or all of the following symptoms.

  • Thickening of nails
  • Discoloration of nails
  • As the nails thicken, you may have problems related to exercising, walking and even standing
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Loss of dexterity
  • A prickling or tingling sensation on the skin under the nail. This condition is medically known as paresthesia
  • Severe fungal infection of the nail can cause the nail and fingertip to disfigure

Beside the aforementioned signs and symptoms, you also may suffer from low self-esteem, social issues and embarrassment.

What Causes Nail Fungus?

Obviously, it is a good idea to find out how fungus attacks fingernails and toenails. That way you will be able to take precautions to protect yourself from this infection.

Nail fungus is caused primarily by three types of organisms. These organisms are:

  • Dermatophytes or fungus that attack skin, nails and hair. When they infect your nails, they consume the nail tissue
  • Yeast
  • Non-dermatophyte molds

All three organisms cause similar symptoms, so it is very difficult for a layperson to identify which organism has caused the infection. This said, out of all the organisms, dermatophytes are the most common cause for nail fungus across of the world. A very small percentage of fungal infections of the nails is caused by yeast or non-dermatophyte molds.

Risk Factors

You know you are at a higher risk of getting a fungal infection of the nail if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Family history of fungal infection of nails
  • Poor health
  • Trauma
  • Showering in communal showers, such as those in gyms or swimming pool changing rooms
  • Wearing closed shoes constantly that do not let your feet get aired
  • Immunosuppression due to disease, such as HIV, or taking certain medications, like those for cancer therapy
  • Taking part in fitness activities
  • Living in a warm climate
  • Advancing age

Now that you know the causes, symptoms and risk factors for fungal nail infection, what are you going to do to prevent this infection from infection your toenails?


Understanding the causes of fungal nail infection and what are the symptoms of this infection will allow you prevent your nails from getting it and curing it before it progresses.

fungal nail infection