Fungal infections can affect any part of the body. Fungi are normally present in and on the body alongside various bacteria. But when a fungus begins to overgrow, you can get an infection.
Onychomycosis, also called tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that affects either the fingernails or toenails. Fungal infections normally develop over time, so any immediate difference in the way your nail looks or feels may be too subtle to notice at first.
Why does it develop?
A fungal nail infection occurs from the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so this type of environment can cause them to naturally overpopulate. The same fungi that cause jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm can cause nail infections.
Fungi that are already present in or on your body can cause nail infections. If you have come in contact with someone else who has a fungal infection, you may have contracted it as well. Fungal infections affect toenails more commonly than fingernails, likely because your toes are usually confined to shoes, where they’re in a warm, moist environment.
If you get a manicure or pedicure at a nail salon, be sure to ask how the staff disinfects their tools and how often they do it. Tools, such as emery boards and nail clippers, can spread fungal infections from person to person if they’re not sanitized.
Who’s at risk for fungal infections?
There are many different causes of fungal nail infections. Each cause has a treatment of its own. Although many of the causes of a fungal nail infection are preventable, some risk factors increase the likelihood of developing one. You’re more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you:
- have diabetes
- have a disease that causes poor ciculation
- are over age 65
- wear artificial nails
- swim in a public swimming pool
- have a nail injury
- have a skin injury around the nail
- have moist fingers or toes for an extended time
- have a weakened immune system
- wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots
Nail infections occur more oftenTrusted Source in men than in women, and the infections are found in adults more often than in children. If you have family members who often get these types of fungal infections, you’re more likely to get them as well.
Older adults have a high risk for getting fungal nail infections because they have poorer circulation. The nails also grow more slowly and thicken as we age.
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