Dr Clare Morrison

Article by Dr Clare Morrison

Fungal Nail Infections

A fungal nail infection (known as onychomycosis) happens when a fungus attacks finger or toenails. Fungi can infect the nails through small cuts in skin around nails. While nail infections probably won’t cause serious problems, they can look bad, or damage the nail or the nail bed. In fact, a nail infection could lead to more serious problems if you have diabetes or a weak immune system.

85 percent of nail infections start on the nail bed, and a fungal nail infection is seven times more likely to occur on one of your toenails than on one of your fingernails. Fungal nail infections are also contagious.

Symptoms of fungal nail infections

You may be suffering from a nail infection if you have the following symptoms:

⦁ Thick or brittle nails

⦁ A change in the shape of the nails

⦁ White or yellow streaks on the nail

⦁ Rough edges

⦁ Loosening or lifting of nails

⦁ Watch out for raw, red scaley skin around your nails – this may be a sign of a fungal infection in your skin

How to avoid nail infections

Fungal nail infections are easy to catch in places such as changing rooms or swimming pools, as well as unsterilised equipment in nail and beauty salons. Sharing contaminated objects, such as clothing and bed sheets can also spread the infection. You can avoid nail infections by:

⦁ If you’ve had a fungal toe nail infection in the past, consider throwing away old shoes

⦁ Ensuring that your toenails are kept clean and trimmed⦁ Don’t cut your toenails too short

⦁ Washing and drying your hands thoroughly after contact with any fungal infection or treatment

⦁ Wearing shoes that fit correctly – for example, high heels and narrow-toed shoes can damage the natural skin seal between your nail and skin underneath

⦁ Make sure the equipment at your nail salon is sterilised properly

⦁ Avoid walking barefoot in public spaces – wear flip flops in showers and around pools

⦁ Don’t share towels with other people!⦁ Wear cotton socks so your feet can breathe properly

⦁ Always be aware that infections are contagious – so if you are infected take extra precautions to keep your feet protected!

What treatments are available for my nail infection?

We recommend you use Curanail (or Loceryl) to treat your fungal infections in both fingers and toe nails. Curanail contains the active ingredient Amorolfine. This antifungal medicine kills fungi and yeasts by affecting their cell membranes. However, Curanail should only be used if no more than two fingers or toes are affected – if you have more nails affected, you should see your doctor.

How does Curanail work?

Curanail works by causing holes to appear in the fungal cell  membranes. This allows essential constituents of the fungal cells to leak out, killing the fungi and clearing up the infection.

How to use Curanail

Curanail is for topical use only. Make sure you use Curanail once a week, and continue to use it until the affected area is healed – this can take up to six months for fingers and nine for toes.

Make sure you file down the surface of affected nails, don’t allow anyone else to use this file and only use it on the affected nail.

The surface should then be cleansed using a cleaning pad.

Before repeating application, file down the nails and cleanse again.Allow the nail to dry thoroughly after use and clean the spatula afterwards so it can be reused.

Don’t use nail polish or artificial nails at all during this treatment!

Side effects of Curanail

It is unlikely you will experience side effects using Curanail. However, there have been some reports of nail discolouration and brittleness that can be caused by using the product. If you see a green-yellowish or black pigmentation of your nail or underneath, you should consult your doctor.

This medicine is also not suitable for those who have an allergy to the ingredients, who suffer from peripheral circulatory disorders, diabetes mellitus, nail dystrophy and destroyed nail plates. or are immunosuppressed.

Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. For more information contact one of MedExpress’s customer service team.

Dr Clare Morrison
Dr Clare Morrison
Experienced General Practitioner in Hampshire since 1995, with particular interest in Nutrition, Obesity and Smoking Cessation.
Originally published October 14 2017, updated October 06 2018