Manhattan Dermatology Specialists
  • MIDTOWN 56 W 45TH ST, STE 819 New York, NY 10036
  • UPPER EAST SIDE 983 PARK AVE, STE 1D1 New York, NY 10028
  • UNION SQUARE 55 W. 17TH ST STE 103 New York, NY 10011

Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is an infection that gets up under your nails. While it can infect both your fingernails and your toenails, toenail fungus is more common. You likely examine your fingernails on a daily basis, but your toenails regularly disappear into your shoes and socks for most of the day. In addition, this fungus grows faster in damp locations.

So you’re more likely to get nail diseases and fungal infections in your toenails. If your nail fungus infection — known in medical circles as onychomycosis — doesn’t look too bad or bother you, it’s probably not dangerous. But you do need nail fungus treatment if your nail is discolored or impaired. A visit to your Manhattan dermatologist can put you on the path toward resolving your nail issues.

Signs That You Have Nail Fungus

In bad cases of nail fungus, you can actually see the damage the fungal infection is causing. Your nail may look:

  • Yellowed or discolored;
  • Brittle or fragile;
  • Unusually thick;
  • Deteriorating around the edges;
  • Disattaching from the nail bed.

The infection can affect more than one fingernail or toenail at the same time. If your nail appears to have darkened spots underneath or if it smells putrid, these are more symptoms of nail diseases like fungal infections. If you’ve tried over-the-counter remedies, but you haven’t seen any improvements, make an appointment at your New York City dermatology practice.

Who’s at Risk for Getting Fungal Nail Diseases?

Anyone at any age can get fingernail and toenail fungus infections, given the right set of fungus-friendly circumstances. Older adults seem to be more susceptible because of the age of their nails. Aging toenails dry out, becoming more brittle. If a nail cracks, it provides an entry point for existing fungus. It doesn’t help those older people who also suffer from impaired blood circulation to their legs and feet.

  • Older adults get toenail fungus more often than younger people.
  • This disease weakens your immune system and impairs your circulation. If you have diabetes, a toenail infection can lead to more serious medical conditions.
  • Constant scratching. If you have a history of skin rashes like an athlete’s foot, you’re more likely to get a fungal infection under your toenails.
  • Since fungus likes a damp, warm environment, it likes people who sweat a lot.
  • Skin conditions. If you suffer from psoriasis and psoriatic nails, it can be a portal of entry for a fungal infection.
  • Even a minor cut near your nail or a crack in your nail can encourage nail diseases.

The Causes of Fingernail and Toenail Fungus

A fungus is a living organism that lives all around us. Only about half of all fungi are harmful to humans, and most fungal infections occur in people with weakened or suppressed immune systems. Fungal infections are nail diseases similar to an athlete’s foot. In fact, an athlete’s foot can lead to toenail fungus. If you spend time in gyms, locker rooms, or public pools, wear clean footwear. The fungus lives in these moist areas. The most common fungi that cause infections are:

  • Dermatophytes;
  • Molds;
  • Yeasts.

The fungal infection starts the way most other infections start: the invading fungus finds a weak spot and multiplies. If the infection develops under one of your toenails, the warm, moist area naturally supports fungal growth. The infection becomes more evident the more the fungus multiplies. Eventually, it may reach the point of causing pain and/or doing damage to the nail itself.

Oral Nail Fungus Treatment

By the time you visit your NYC dermatologist’s office, your nail fungus is likely easy to diagnose with a visual examination. Your dermatology NYC doctor may cut a sample from your nail or scrape some material from under the nail to send to a laboratory for analysis. Your treatment may change based on what type of fungus is infecting your nails: dermatophytes, molds, or yeasts. Your doctor may start your nail fungus treatment by prescribing antifungal medication taken orally. And that’s where your treatment often stops, although you have to take the drugs for up to three months. The fungus that causes nail diseases can be difficult to reach, which is why oral medication often works best. But it’s a slow process that can even take four months or longer to completely resolve.

Other Nail Fungus Treatment Options

If oral medications aren’t an option for you, other treatments exist, such as:

  • Prescription-strength nail cream or polish;
  • Surgery;
  • Laser.

Creams and polishes are medicated topical solutions that you have to apply daily. These nail fungus treatments contain medicine that’s absorbed by your nails and your skin, fighting the infection over time. But they may take as long as one year to work. Surgery is obviously the final option if nothing else has worked. Removing your infected nail, temporarily or even permanently, lets your NYC dermatology doctor put antifungal medication directly onto your toe or finger, where it’s most needed.

Averting Danger to Your Health

If you’re in the New York City area, have nail diseases treated by a top Manhattan dermatologist. If left untreated, your fingernail or toenail fungus can permanently injure your nails. The fungal infection can even spread to other parts of your body. As a precaution, wash your hands and feet every day and especially after exercising. Inspect your nails and keep them properly trimmed. Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe. If you’re conscious of the danger, you can avoid nail diseases like toenail fungus.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ One of the best doctors’ visits I have ever had, from front desk to my check-up. Dr.Fathollahi was very thorough, attentive, and informative. Also, incredibly nice 🙂 Highly recommend it!

Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board-certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Updated on Mar 7, 2023 by Dr. Susan Bard (Dermatologist), Manhattan Dermatology Specialists Locations: Manhattan Dermatology (Upper East Side) 983 Park Ave, Ste 1D1, NY 10028
(212) 427-8750
Manhattan Dermatology (Midtown) 56 W 45th St, Ste 819, NY 10036
(212) 889-2402
Manhattan Dermatology (Union Square) 55 W 17th St, Ste 103, NY 10011
(212) 378-9984
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY The information on this website is to provide general information. The information on this website does NOT reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a physician for a consultation and examination regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs you may be having. An accurate diagnosis and treatment plan should only be made by your physician in order to exclude a serious condition.
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