Fungal Nails - Signs and Symptoms

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What did your nails look like when you had a nail fungus? What were your signs and symptoms?

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What are the symptoms and signs of fungal nails?

There are many species of fungi that can affect nails. By far the most common, however, is called Trichophyton rubrum. This type of fungus has a tendency to infect the skin (known as a dermatophyte) and manifests in the following specific ways.

  • Starts at the ends of the nails and raises the nail up: This is called "distal subungal onychomycosis." It is the most common type of fungal infection of the nails (90%). It is more common in the toes than the fingers. Risk factors include older age, swimming, athlete's foot, psoriasis, diabetes, family members with the infection, or a suppressed immune system. It usually starts as a discolored area at a corner of the big toe and slowly spreads toward the cuticle. Eventually the toenails will become thickened and flaky. Sometimes, you can also see athlete's foot in between the toes or skin peeling on the sole of the foot.
  • Starts at the base of the nail and raises the nail up: It is called "proximal subungal onychomycosis." This is the least common type of fungal nail (3%). It is similar to the distal type, but it starts at the cuticle (base of the nail) and slowly spreads toward the nail tip. This type almost always occurs in people with a damaged immune system.
  • Yeast onychomycosis: This type is caused by a yeast called Candida and not by the Trichophyton fungus named above. It is more common in fingernails and may be the most common cause of fungal fingernails. Candida can cause yellow, brown, white, or thickened nails. Some people who have this infection also have yeast in their mouth or have a chronic paronychia (see above) that is also infected with yeast.
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Comment from: Molly, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: March 11

I have had thin, mushy, some black fingernails over the last two years and they don"t seem to connect to the nail bed properly. I have been to a dermatologist and received a medication which did not help. I asked if I could use nail polish as the nails are ugly. The dermatologist said that should not be a problem. Some of the nails are pretty clear but do not connect to the nail bed.

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