Definition. Fungal nail infections are common infections of the fingernails or toenails that can cause the nail to become discolored, thick, and more likely to crack and break. Infections are more common in toenails than fingernails. The technical name for a fungal nail infection is “onychomycosis.”
What causes nail fungus?
Tiny, microscopic organisms called fungi (the plural of fungus) cause a fungal nail infection. Many people pick up the fungi when they have skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a fungal infection like athlete’s foot or ringworm on their hands.
Treating nail fungus infections can be a long and expensive process. There are oral antifungal medications, topical ointments, and alternative therapies. Over the counter creams and ointments are available, but they have not proved very effective.
Oral medications for nail fungus infection include:
• terbinafine (Lamisil)
• itraconazole (Sporanox)
• fluconazole (Diflucan)
These typically take up to 4 months before fully replacing the infected nail with uninfected nail.
In some extreme cases, a physician will opt to remove the entire nail.
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