What Is Onychomycosis?

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail. It can affect both fingernails and toenails, but it is more common in toenails. This condition is caused by a variety of fungus, which can cause the nails to discolor, thicken, crumble, and even separate from the nail bed. Onychomycosis is also commonly known as tinea unguium or ringworm of the nails.

Signs and Symptoms of Onychomycosis

The signs and symptoms of onychomycosis include:

  • Discoloration of the nail (yellow, brown, white, or green)
  • Thickening of the nail
  • Brittle, crumbly or ragged nails
  • Distorted nail shape
  • Separation of the nail from the nail bed
  • Pain and swelling around the nail
  • Foul smell coming from the affected nail

Prevention of Onychomycosis

The following steps can help prevent onychomycosis:

  • Keep your feet cool, dry, and clean. Wear breathable shoes and socks, and avoid wearing the same shoes for extended periods.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like locker rooms and swimming pools.
  • Don't share nail clippers, nail files, or any other personal grooming items.
  • Inspect your feet regularly for any signs of fungal infection, and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment of Onychomycosis

Treatment of onychomycosis depends on the severity of the infection. Mild cases may be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications and home remedies. In more severe cases, prescription antifungal medications may be necessary.

  • Topical medications - These include creams, gels, and lacquers that are applied directly to the nail. They are usually used in milder cases of onychomycosis.
  • Systemic medications - These are medications that are taken orally. Systemic medications are usually used for more severe cases of onychomycosis.
  • Laser treatments - Laser treatments are the newest form of treatment for onychomycosis. They are used to destroy the fungus and promote healthy nail growth.


Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail that can cause discoloration, thickening, crumbling, and separation from the nail bed. Preventative measures, such as keeping the feet cool, dry, and clean, can help reduce the risk of getting onychomycosis. Treatment options include topical medications, systemic medications, and laser treatments. If you suspect you have onychomycosis, it is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.