No-one likes to talk about it, but many people experience fungal nail infections. Read on to see how to avoid these types of infections, and what to do if you have an infection on your feet or toenails.

Nail fungus is often caused by something called ‘dermatophytes’, which are fungi found growing on skin, hair, nails and other bodily surfaces.

When dermatophytes get underneath your nail, it causes yellow/brownish discolouration and the nail can become quite thick and maintain a crumbly texture when cut.

If left untreated, the skin underneath your nail can become inflamed and/or painful and it may retain a foul smell. It is so important to contact a podiatrist at the first indication of a fungal nail infection, to avoid further complication.

How can you avoid fungal nail infections?

The answer mostly lies in good foot hygiene.
Examples include:

  • Frequently wash your feet
  • Never share nail clippers or nail files
  • Avoid going barefoot in public establishments – such as showers or pool areas
  • Keep your nails trimmed regularly with no sharp edges
  • Never wear the same pair of socks two days in a row
  • Never share footwear with other people

How can you treat fungal nail infections?

Some at-home treatments include washing your socks and/or hosiery with a combination of hot water and an anti-fungal wash. It can also help to clean and air your shoes regularly, alternating
them with another pair to allow for a thorough cleaning.

Keep all floor surfaces clean by vacuuming or mopping regularly and be sure to disinfect the base of your shower or bathtub directly after someone with a fungal infection has showered or soaked.

A podiatrist can assist in identifying and treating the condition. Your podiatrist might recommend pharmaceutical antifungal treatments which are readily available through pharmacies. It is very important to precisely follow the instructions outlined on these products – and follow through until the infection is completely resolved.

If your condition doesn’t improve or worsens, please see a podiatrist.

Fungal and nail infections patient information
An APodA member resource © Australian Podiatry Association 2023