April 20, 2022 3 min read

What is nail fungus? 

Nail fungus are common infections of the fingernails or toenails that can cause the nail to become discoloured, thick and more likely to crack and break. Nail fungus can affect fingernails, but it's more common in toenails. The scientific name for a fungal nail infection is “onychomycosis”. 

 

What are the symptoms? 

Fungal nails are often: 

  • Discoloured (yellow, brown or white) 
  • Thick 
  • Brittle and easily cracked 
  • Distorted in shape
  • A dark colour, caused by debris building up under your nail 
  • Smelling slightly foul 

A fungal nail infection usually isn’t painful unless it becomes severe 

In some cases, fungus further infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, which is commonly known as athlete's foot (tinea pedis).

 

What are the causes of nail fungus? 

Fungal nail infections are caused by various fungal organisms (fungi). The most common cause is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. Yeast and molds also can cause nail infections.

Small cracks in your nail or the surrounding skin are the primary cause of nail fungus, as they allow these germs to enter your nail and cause an infection.

Fungal nail infection can develop in people at any age, but it's more common in older adults. As the nail ages, it can become brittle and dry. The results are nail cracks, which, like said, allow fungi to enter and cause an infection. Other factors — such as diabetes, reduced blood circulation and a weakened immune system — also may play a role.

Nail fungus can develop from athlete’s foot, and it can spread from one nail to another. 

Nail fungus can spread from person to person by sharing towels, socks, etc. In these cases, the fungi are transferred, not necessarily the infection, so it is rare for you to get an infection from someone else.

 

A summary of risk factors

In short, here’re the factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus: 

  • Have a nail injury or skin injury around the nail
  • Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms
  • Being older, owing to reduced blood flow, more years of exposure to fungi and slower growing nails
  • Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system
  • Having a history of athlete's foot
  • Sweating heavily
  • Using poorly sterilised nail clippers, files and other tools for your manicure and pedicure

 

Now, back to our main concern: what if you have nail fungus? Should you still get your nails done? 

There’re three reasons why we don’t recommend getting your nails done when having nail fungus

 

  1. Firstly, the substances in the nail polish create an inhospitable environment for fungus, hence applying polishes or enhancements will actually make it more difficult for your nail to breath, keeping more moisture in the nail, and causing the fungus to grow.
  2. Secondly, stirring up the fungus can make it infect your other nails as well.
  3. Finally, although rare, nail fungus can be contagious on a client-to-client basis. Despite following strict cleaning protocols, some surfaces in the salon can still possibly be contaminated with the fungus. 

 

To protect your health and the community health, we recommend re-visiting our nail bars once the nail fungus had been remedied.



What I should do, otherwise, when developing nail fungus?

If you develop a fungal infection, it’s best to see your family doctor, a GP, or a doctor who specialises in skin conditions (dermatologist) or one who specialises in finger and toenail conditions (podiatrist) to receive the best advice and treatment. 

 

Our tips to prevent fungal nail infections: 

  • Keep your hands and feet clean and dry
  • Wash your hands after touching an infected nail.
  • Avoid going barefoot in public places like swimming pools and locker rooms
  • Bandage the the injured nails or the injured skin around the nails to stop the fungus from entering 
  • Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day.
  • Choose shoes made of materials that breathe.
  • Discard old shoes or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
  • Choose a prestige nail salon that uses sterilised tools for each customer, that also implements a comprehensive cleaning procedure. 

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Visit our Tips & Advice section for more informational blog posts that cover nail health and well-being. 


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