​Fungal Nail Infection

Fungal nail infection is a common nail disorder which starts in the skin surrounding nail plate. It is typically caused by the dermatophyte fungus, or mold or yeast. Fungus attacks either a toenail or fingernail, or the nail bed (the skin below the nail). ​It appears as a discoloured spot, then gradually grows to cause disfigurement of all nails. As the infection grows, it can cause your nail to grow thicker, fragile and eventually crumble away. Risk factors associated with fungal nail infection include:

  • Old age leading to reduce blood flow

  • Excessive sweating

  • Having peripheral vascular disease

  • Working in a moist or humid environment

  • Wearing socks and shoes that do not allow ventilation

  • Living in close quarters with someone with the infection

  • Having athlete’s foot

  • Sharing socks, towels, footwear of those infected

  • Having diabetes, weak immune system or Down syndrome (in children)

You may suspect that you have fungal infection in the nails if they appear:

  • Thickened

  • Brittle, crumbling or ragged

  • Dull, without shine

  • Discoloured

  • Distorted in shape

You may also feel slight pain in your nails and detect a foul odour.​

You may approach one of our highly trained doctors at the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan, if the self-care steps have been ineffective. You should also seek medical help if you have diabetes and suspect fungal growth in your nails.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Initially, your doctor will examine your nails or get a test done. 
  • Microscopy and culture for fungus: Your doctor may collect a sample of the affected nail and send it for testing to determine the type of fungus causing the infection. Knowing the cause of infection will help your doctor determine the best treatment plan for you.
Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.

If self-care steps are ineffective, your doctor may provide you with a range of treatments depending on the extent of your disorder. Different treatments may be used in combination to ensure complete removal but chances of the infection recurring will be present. Treatment options include:

  • Oral antifungal medications that you may have to take for several weeks. These drugs help new nail to grow sans infection, slowly replacing the infected part. It may take four months or longer to eliminate the infection

  • Topical medications including medicated nail polish and antifungal nail cream. These are applied on the infected nail and the skin surrounding it

  • Surgery in which your nail will be removed in case of severe infection or extreme pain. The new nail will grow in its place but it can take as long as a year to grow completely​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.