Explainer: why do we get fungal nail infections and how can we treat them?

Jackson THOMAS, Gregory Peterson, Julia K. Christenson, Sam KOSARI

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/BulletinArticle

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About 10% of us (including 20% of people over 60 and 50% of people over 70) suffer from fungal nail infections. So why do we get them, and does it matter?
Technically called “onychomycosis”, fungal infection of the nail plate (the hard outer nail) or nail bed (that lies under the hard nail) will most often appear as yellowish, white, black or green discolouration of the nail. The infected nail may also appear thickened or brittle. In severe cases, from long-term infection (where all the tissues of the nail have been infected), the infected nail may break up and fall off. Fungal nail infections can be difficult to cure, and they typically don’t go away without antifungal treatment. The fungus can spread to other areas of the hands or feet, and can be mild with purely cosmetic implications, or more severe with pain, low self-esteem and embarrassment due to disfigurement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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