Fungal nail infections

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

Symptoms of a fungal nail infection

Fungal nail infections are usually painless. Your nails might feel or look:

  • thicker than usual
  • soft
  • crumbly (pieces may break off)
  • discoloured

These symptoms may cover part of your nail, or your whole nail.

Tests to confirm a fungal nail infection

A fungal nail infection can be confirmed by the symptoms you have. Sometimes the podiatrist might take a small amount of your nail to send to the laboratory. This will confirm the type of fungal infection you have.

Treatment for a fungal nail infection

You can buy treatment for fungal nail infections from your local pharmacy. Ask for an antifungal toenail lacquer containing amorolfine 5%.

Apply the lacquer 1 time each week to the affected toenail. Gently file your nail before using the treatment.

Continue treatment for 9 to 12 months, until you see healthy nail growing back at the base of your nail. Your nail might not look like it did before the infection, even after the infection is gone.

When to get help

If the treatment does not work, or the fungal infection is at the base of your nail, you might need antifungal tablets. These tablets can be prescribed by your GP. Speak to your podiatrist for more information.

If your nail becomes painful, you might need nail surgery. Speak to your podiatrist for more information.

How you can help yourself

Fungal nail infections can spread from the skin (athlete’s foot) to the nail. To stop this happening keep your feet clean and treat athlete’s foot if you have it. 

Useful information

The Royal College of Podiatry  have information on foot conditions and procedures.

Resource number: 4900/VER2
Last reviewed: May 2023
Next review due: May 2026

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Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the community podiatry team.

Phone 020 3049 7900, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

If you need emergency help outside of these hours, contact your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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