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The type of fungus that grows in or on your fingernails and toenails is of a variety called dermatophytes. These fungi usually occur on the toenails, but can grow on hair, outer skin layers and dead tissue around the nail.


Because fungi live in warm, moist areas, this condition occurs mainly on people who frequent gyms, swimming pools and shower rooms. Nail fungus mainly occurs on older adults, and rarely appears on children.

There are other common factors, besides swimming pools and shower rooms. These include people who:

  • Receive manicures and pedicures with used tools.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes and other footwear on a regular basis.
  • Have psoriasis, circulation problems, or immune system issues.
  • Have deformed nails, nail injuries, nail disease or minor skin problems.
  • Have very moist skin.


There are a number of different symptoms that indicate the presence of nail fungus. Look for a thickening of the nail, white or yellow streaks under the tip of the nail or on top of it, brittleness, crumbling at the edge of the effective nail, and a loosening or lifting up at the edges of the nail.

In order to receive the correct diagnosis, a dermatologist must take several nail scrapings and look at them under a microscope. In some cases, the samples might be sent to a lab.


In many cases, over-the-counter remedies do not work, and if the fungus is not treated, it might cause permanent nail damage. Because of this, it’s important to see a dermatologist in order to receive the right treatment regimen.

A dermatologist can treat a nail fungus in several different ways. These include prescribing an oral anti-fungal medication, or doing laser treatments on the affected nail. However, in severe cases, the infected nail(s) may have to be removed, and the fungus is only cured when the new, healthy nail grows back in.

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