Fungal Nail Infections (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Fungal nail infections typically progress very slowly. The rate at which a fungal infection progresses depends on:
You may first notice a fungal nail infection when a nail or skin under the nail (nail bed) becomes discolored, damaged, thickened, or broken. If not treated, a fungal infection is likely to get worse and spread to other parts of the nail, the nail bed, and possibly the surrounding skin. Over time, the whole nail may become infected and damaged and may eventually fall out.
Fungal nail infections can be treated successfully, but some types are more easily treated than others. The most common type, distal subungual onychomycosis, can be a lifelong infection and hard to treat. Another type, white superficial onychomycosis, can be easily treated. Even after treatment, your nails may continue to look irregular in shape and appearance. It can take a year or longer before they return to normal.
Fungal nail infections often return. Of people successfully treated with antifungal pills, 15% to 20% get another infection in the next year.3 After treatment, take steps to prevent reinfection, such as using antifungal creams and keeping your feet dry.
Sometimes people with a fungal nail infection may have another problem that can make it hard to walk. For example, you may have decreased blood circulation in your feet and toes. This can make foot ulcers worse in people who have diabetes and ulcers caused by poor circulation (venous skin ulcer).
Bacterial infection can be a complication of a fungal nail infection. A common bacterial infection, acute paronychia, causes inflammation and swelling of the skin and tissues near a fingernail or toenail.
Quality of life
Although a fungal nail disorder is not dangerous to your health, it can affect your quality of life. You may avoid some activities because of the appearance of your nails and fear of spreading the disease to others. Pain may limit your activities and interfere with work. You may worry about treatment, because insurance companies sometimes consider the condition a cosmetic problem and limit coverage of treatment options.
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