Is It A Fungal Nail?

As a podiatrist this is a frequently asked question.

What are the characteristics of a fungal nail?

Not always but often you will see a nail that is thickened.  Remember because the nail is thickened does not mean it is fungal.  Thickened nails are seen in conditions like psoriasis or following trauma to the nail bed.

Other things you may see is a soft spongy nail which flakes and they can be smelly.

How can I know for sure?

The only way you will know for sure is if a sample of the nail is taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Top tip!

Ask you podiatrist for assistance.  Often if the sample is not taken and handled correctly it can come back as a false negative result.

What treatments are available?

Topical applications: you will probably see a range of topical medicaments you can paint on the nail.  In my experience this has little impact in fully resolving fungal growth in the nail.

Medication: Medication is available in tablet which is much more successful.  However you will need to contact your GP to make sure this is appropriate for you based on your own medical background.

What can the podiatrist do?

Often people choose to do nothing other than have their nails managed by having them reduced and cut professionally.

Laser treatment is an option which will be available from some podiatrists.

Other new treatments include clearanail which involves drilling tiny holes in the nail surface and applying topical agents into the infected nails.  Research is ongoing in this field but the early signs are good.

Bruce McCulloch

Written by Bruce McCulloch

Bruce graduated from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh with a 1st Class Honours degree in Podiatry in 2002, and later completed a master’s degree which involved studying advanced practice in biomechanics and musculoskeletal conditions. Bruce established Podiatry Shetland in 2010 and the business has steadily grown since, delivering a wide range of care for patients.