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Fungal Infections

Fungal InfectionsFungal infections of the foot can affect the toenails and the skin.

Toenail fungal infection

Fungal infection is the most common disease of the nails and constitutes about half of all nail abnormalities. Toenails are affected more commonly than fingernails and approximately 6-8 percent of the adult population is affected by this condition. Men are more often affected than women and usually later in life, after the age of 40.

Signs of fungal toenail infection include nails that are discoloured (white or yellow), brittle, crumbly or ragged, thickened, distorted in shape and separated from the nail bed. There is usually no pain or other bodily symptoms, unless the disease is severe.

Risk factors for toenail fungal infection include family history, increasing age, poor health, poor foot hygiene , prior trauma to the nails, warm, damp climate, participation in fitness activities which can lead to repeated minor trauma, diseases that influence the immune system (e.g. HIV, diabetes), exposure to damp communal areas (e.g., gyms, swimming pools), , and occlusive footwear.


  • Footwear should be worn when in damp communal areas.
  • Toenails should be kept short and clean; feet should be dried completely immediately after bathing.
  • Socks should be made of absorbent material (e.g., cotton) and changed if wet.

Skin fungal infection

Fungal infection of the skin on the foot is most commonly known as Athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot causes scaling, flaking, and itch of the affected areas. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling, and inflammation.


You can take pre-cautions in preventing fungal infections. These include:

  • Change your socks when they are damp from sweat or if your feet get wet. Put on clean, dry socks every day. Socks should be made of absorbent material (e.g., cotton or wool)
  • Clean and dry your feet thoroughly
  • Wear shoes with good support and a wide toe area. Do not wear pointed shoes that press your toes together
  • Footwear should be worn when in damp communal areas
  • See the podiatrist for treatment options