What does a Fungal Nail infection look like? How do I prevent it?

Check if it's a fungal nail infection

Fungal nail infections are common. They're not serious but they can take a long time to treat. They usually affect your toenails, but you can get them on your fingernails, too.


The nail on a person's big toe. The sides of the nail are yellow and the edge that's trimmed is flaky. Shown on white skin.
Fungal nail infections sometimes start at the edge of the nail.
Toenails are covered in pale yellow and brown patches and lines. Shown on medium brown skin.
The infection often spreads to the middle of the nail, making the nail discoloured and sometimes thicker in parts.
The nail on a person's big toe is yellow and crumbling. It has a piece missing over the tip of the toe. Shown on white skin.
The nail becomes brittle and pieces can break off. Sometimes the whole nail lifts off. This can cause pain and swelling in the skin around the nail.


If you have diabetes, you should see a foot specialist (podiatrist) because any foot injury or infection can lead to complications of diabetes.



Fungal nail infections develop when your feet are constantly warm and damp.

You're more likely to get an infection if you wear trainers for a long time and have hot, sweaty feet.

To prevent fungal nail infections:


  • treat athlete's foot as soon as possible to avoid it spreading to nail

  • keep your feet clean and dry

  • wear clean socks every day

  • wear flip-flops in showers at the gym or pool

  • throw out old shoes


  • do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty

  • do not share towels

  • do not wear other people's shoes

  • do not share nail clippers or scissors