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Understanding Nail Fungus

What is Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus is called onychomycosis by physicians. It is an actual infection of the nail plate and the nailbed (the hard part of the nail and the skin under the nail) of the fingers and toes. It is caused by a kind of fungus that obtains nutrients from the tissue of the skin and nails. The fungus starts on the skin, on the toes and in between the toes. It thrives in a dark, warm, and moist environment; exactly what the shoe, sock and perspiration create. The fungus then spreads into and under the nail.

Symptoms of nail fungus

The first signs of nail fungus are mild discoloration to the nails. The nail may look yellow, cloudy or darkened. As the fungal infection worsens the nail may start to get thick and have grooves. More advanced infection leads to the nail becoming soft and crumbling. In very advanced stages the entire nail is deformed and may fall off. When the new nail grows back, it too will be infected and deformed. Occasionally, people will have pain associated with nail fungus. This is usually due to the nail becoming thick and the shoe pressing on it.