Health special: fungal nail infection

The complete guide to fungal nail infection: causes, prevention, treatment, tips - January 2020

Source: RealReview Treatment Guide 2020
Article by: Dr. W. van Bakel
Last update: 18-07-2022

Fungal nail infection is a very common, yet difficult to treat and contagious fungus infection that does not heal if left untreated. A seemingly mild or innocent athlete's foot infection can quickly lead to serious medical problems.

In this article:
1. What is fungal nail infection?
2. What causes fungal nail infection?
3. How do I recognise fungal nail?
4. Is nail fungus contagious?
5. How to treat fungal nail?
6. How to prevent fungal nail?
7. What is the best fungal nail treatment?
8. NHS Recommendations?

1. What is fungal nail infection?

Fungal nail, also called Onychomycosis or tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that infects the nails. The fungal nail infection develops slowly and if hard to notice in the early stages. Once infected, it is very hard to treat, since the infection is hard to reach.

The infected nail is often yellow, green, or brown discolored and can be a bit brittle, making the nail look damaged. You can have a fungal nail on your fingers, but it is more common with toenails.


Always visit your GP to get your fungal infection diagnosed!

2. What causes fungal nail infection?

The surface of your skin is covered in bacteria and fungi, some good, some bad. This should not be a problem, we need the good ones to defend us from the bad ones. The moment the fungi start to overgrow, they can become a problem when they penetrate the skin.

Sweaty socks and shoes are an ideal breeding location for fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. The moment you develop foot fungus (also called athlete's foot) the fungi could penetrate the (damaged) nail and cause fungal nail infection.


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3. How do I recognise the symptoms of nail fungus?

You can recognise a fungal nail infection by:

· Thickening of the nail
· Distored or brittle nail that my lift off from the nail bed
· Discoloration of the nail
· An odor coming from the infected nail

If you are unsure about your fungal nail infection, always visit your GP for a diagnose!

4. Is nail fungus contagious?

Nail fungus is very contagious and does not heal by itself! If left untreated, the infection can easily spread and infect other nails or even other people! Always ensure to wear flip-flops or sandals in public places like the swimming pool, sauna or in the gym.

5. How to treat fungal nail?

Do you want to get rid of your fungal nail? Then first ensure you are not suffering from foot fungus (athlete's foot). Fungal nail usually starts with foot fungus. The fungi spores are easily transported by sweat into socks, shoes and in the shower where they can become a source of continuous re-infection.

To treat fungal nail, several simple treatments are available:
· Vinegar
· Laser treatment
· Fungal nail treatment

Vinegar is a natural solution that can help mild cases of fungal nail infection. The acidity of the vinegar can kill off fungus spores. What you have to do is soak the infected nail daily in pure vinegar for at least 15 minutes. After treatment rinse your feet with water.

Laser treatment
Although costly, laser treatment is another way to treat fungal nail infections. Several licensed podiatrist offer this treatment in their practice. The laser heats the nail and thus killing of the funugus. Treatment with laser could take several months, up to 1 year to fully treat the fungal nail infection.

Fungal nail treatment
In the United Kingdom you can find a broad selection of prescription and non-prescription (OTC) products available to treat fungal nail infections. But which treatment is the best? How do you chose the treatment that is right for you?

To help you choose, we have found a website that makes chosing much easier (see the blue section below).


For a complete overview of all available treatments in the UK, please visit
Here you will find an independent ranking of fungal nail products based on 8.500+ consumer reviews.

Fungal nail Infection?
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6. How to prevent fungal nail?

The most important method of prevention is avoiding contact with contaminated surfaces. Always wear foot protection - like flip-flops or sandals - in public spaces.

· Prevent damaging your nail
A damaged nail gets infected much faster.

· Keep feet clean & dry
Ensure your towel is clean!

· Treat athlete's foot (foot fungus) immediately
To prevent it from spreading

· Disinfect your shoes
Fungi spores spread into your shoes, making them almost impossible to treat

· Wash socks at minimum 60°C.
99% of fungi don't survive temperature of 60°C. or higher

· Do not use normal nail polish
Buy a special breathable nail polish, to prevent damage to the nail.


Prevent reinfection in shoes! #1 reason why fungal nail is hard to treat is continuous reinfection in your own shoes.

7. What is the best fungal nail treatment?

There are several ways to treat a fungal nail infection. A few home remedies that are very effective in treating fungal nail infections. The UK top 5 treatments can be found here!

"Fungal nail treatment can take up to 9 months! Be persistent, don't give up!"

If you are suffering from a more severe fungal nail infection, your GP can prescribe antifungal tablets, which can have some bad side-effects.

Tablets can have bad side effects, including:
· headaches
· itching
· loss of taste
· diarrhoea

You cannot take antifungal tablets if you're pregnant or have certain conditions. They can damage your liver. Badly infected nails sometimes need to be removed. It's a small procedure done while the area is numbed (under local anaesthetic).


Always do your own research. Read the consumer reviews on products you can find online!

UK Treatment top 5

1. ProtectAir
Fungal Nail Treatment 4ml + Nail Files

2. ProtectAir
Fungal Nail Treatment Starter Kit 4ml + Nail Files + Medical Shoe Spray

3. Scholl
Fungal Nail Treatment, 3.8ml

4. Curanail
5% Medicated Nail Lacquer 3ml

5. Nailtroe
Fungal Nail Treatment

List based on 8.500+ consumer reviews:

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8.  NHS  Recommendations


treat athlete's foot as soon as possible to avoid it spreading to nails
keep your feet clean and dry
wear clean socks every day
wear flip-flops in showers at the gym or pool
throw out or treat shoes


do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
do not share towels
do not wear other people's shoes
do not share nail clippers or scissors


For more information, please visit the NHS website:

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