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eMed previously Babylon Health

Fungal Nail Infection

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 3rd April 2019

Fungal nail infections lead to discoloured and brittle nails. Usually the toenails are affected but fingernails can also become infected.


A variety of different fungal organisms can be responsible for fungal nail infection.

Risk factors

  • Older age (studies have shown that 50% of people over the age of 70 have a fungal nail infection1)
  • Fungal infection elsewhere on the body (such as athlete’s foot or other fungal skin infections)
  • Psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Shoes that don’t fit properly or that are very enclosed
  • Attending gyms, swimming pools and other places where people walk around with bare feet

Typical Symptoms

  • Abnormal looking nail
  • Discoloured nail
  • Lifting up of the end of the nail

Common Treatment

  • Antifungal medication (nail varnishes and tablets are available)

When to speak to a doctor

Fungal nail infections can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.


Fungal nail infection can be managed and prevented by:

  • Wearing well fitting shoes
  • Wearing cotton socks
  • Good hand and foot hygiene (keeping the nails trimmed and treating any fungal skin infections)

More information

British Association of Dermatologists -


Ameen, M., Lear, J.T. and Madan, V. et al (2014) British Association of Dermatologists' guidelines for the management of onychomycosis 2014. British Journal of Dermatology 171(5), 937-958.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.