Fungal nail infections usually affect your toenails, but you can get them on your fingernails, too.

A pharmacist can help with fungal nail infections

Speak to a pharmacist if the look of your nail bothers you or it's painful.

They may suggest:

  • antifungal nail cream – it can take up to 12 months to cure the infection and does not always work
  • nail-softening cream – used for 2 weeks to soften the nail so the infection can be scraped off

The infection is cured when you see healthy nail growing back at the base.

Find a pharmacy

See a GP if your fungal nail infection:

  • is severe and treatment has not worked
  • has spread to other nails

Your GP can prescribe antifungal tablets. You'll need to take these every day for up to 6 months.

Tablets can have 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).

Fungal nail infections develop when your feet are constantly warm and damp.

You're more likely to get an infection if you wear trainers for a long time and have hot, sweaty feet.

To prevent fungal nail infections:

Do

  • 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 old shoes

Don't

  • 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

Read medical detail about fungal nail infections