Fungal Nails (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What other conditions can be mistaken for fungal nails?
- What causes fungal nails, and what are some of the risk factors?
- Is nail fungus contagious?
- What are the symptoms and signs of fungal nails?
- How are fungal nails diagnosed?
- How is nail fungus treated?
- Are oral medications for nail fungus toxic?
- What about the cost of oral medications?
- How do you prevent fungal nails?
- What is the prognosis of fungal nails?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What is the prognosis of fungal nails?
Curing fungal nails can be difficult and treatment can take up to 18 months. Relapse and reinfection are common (40%-70% reinfection rate). Trying to remove or modify your risk factors, if possible, is essential to preventing reinfection. People who have medical illnesses that predispose them to fungal nails can have an even more difficult time eradicating the fungus.
Nail fungus causes only 50%-60% of abnormal-appearing nails. It can be hard to tell the difference between the different causes of discolored nails (even for doctors). Onychomycosis is often not treated. Reasons to receive treatment include
- previous leg infection (cellulitis),
- if you have pain or discomfort from your nails, or
- you would like them treated for cosmetic reasons.
Treatment failures and recurrences are common.
Prevention is the key. The following preventive measures are helpful:
- Keep your toenails short, and don't dig into the corners of your nails when cutting toenails.
- Keep feet clean, and dry them thoroughly.
- Wear dry socks and no tight shoes.
- Alternate your exercise shoes.
- Don't soak your hands in water or use harsh cleaners.
- Treat athlete's foot when it occurs.
Medically reviewed by Norman Levine, MD; American Board of Dermatology
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