Nail fungus


  • Nail mycosis
  • Onchomycosis


A nail fungus is an infection or infestation of the nail bed by a fungus.


The cause of nail fungus is an infestation of the Nail bed through so-called Dermatophytes- a type of mushroom with a name, e.g. Trichophyton or Epidermophyton. In addition to the skin fungi there are also Yeaststhat affect the nail bed and can lead to a fungal nail infection.

The infection takes place via the so-called Spurs, these are certain forms of survival of mushrooms. The spores are particularly pronounced Resilience and can stay on floors, walls or in water for a very long time. They can also be found on bath mats, slatted frames, towels and other surfaces. The transfer takes place from Person to person or from Animal to human instead of. Fungal spores can survive and spread for a long time, especially on damp surfaces or in warm areas. Therefore, these infections are considered highly contagious throughout.

In everyday life, this milieu is mainly found in Swimming pools, in Saunas or on and in Shoesthat have been worn for too long. Increased sweating and infrequent airing of clothes or shoes are among the risk factors for the transmission of a nail fungus. In addition, that also applies family environment as one of the causes of the development of nail fungus.Due to the close contact that the individual family members usually maintain with one another, the nail fungus is quickly passed on from one person to another.

In the case of nail fungus, however, it must be noted that not every person equally vulnerable for fungal infections of the Nails are. Diabetes mellitus and diseases that too Blood circulation disorders are lead though no direct causes, but contributing factors for the development of nail fungus.

Furthermore also apply shoes that are too tight as the cause of nail fungus. Due to the increased pressure on the feet, the Skin surface which makes them more susceptible to fungal spore penetration.

Also one general immunodeficiency or different Drug, the the immune system suppress, can promote the spread of nail fungus.

In addition, the risk of getting nail fungus increases with the Age. There is one in the elderly Change in the nature of the nail substance. The nails of the fingers and feet are becoming increasingly brittle, porous and more susceptible to nail fungus. In addition, the presence of a fungal skin infection applies (for example Athlete's foot) one of the most common causes of nail fungus.

Please also read our article on this Mushrooms.

How contagious is a nail fungus?

The causative agents of Nail fungus, so-called Sprouts or Thread fungi (Dermatophytes) will be like the Athlete's foot by Smear or contact infection transfer.

The transmission can be done directly through the Body contact two people, or through shared items be transmitted.
These objects can be, for example, towels, nail scissors or items of clothing such as stockings or shoes.

So it is recommended Boil textiles if possible and shared items with one Disinfectants to clean in order to prevent the fungi from being transmitted as far as possible.

The risk of contagion is also in swimming pool or sauna especially large where people go barefoot and the damp, warm environment promotes the growth of the pathogen.
In many bathrooms there is this special foot showers, the disinfectant act and the pathogens of foot and nail fungus kill should.

It is also important that Thoroughly dry feet and not to wear tight, non-breathable shoes, as the fungal pathogens tend to multiply quickly and easily in damp heat.

Read more detailed information on this topic at: How contagious is a nail fungus?

A nail fungus is highly contagious

Is nail fungus highly contagious and can both from Animal-to-human, as well as from Person-to-person be transmitted. In addition, the fungal spores can grow different surfaces fall and also be transmitted in this way. Since nail fungus is contagious, people who are often in public places (swimming pools etc.) should be regular disinfectant apply. Only in this way can the contagious nail fungus be reliably prevented.

Figure nail fungus

Figure: healthy nail (A) and nail fungus symptoms (B)

Nail - Unguis

  1. Free edge (of the nail) -
    Margo liber
  2. Cover fabric of the nail bed -
  3. Nail plate -
    Lamina unguis
  4. Nail fold - Matric sulcus
  5. "Moondchen" - Lunula
  6. Horny layer of the nail wall -
  7. Distal phalanx -
    Phalanx distalis
  8. Nail root - Margo occultus
    Nail fungus -
    Onychomycosis, Tinea unguium
    Nail fungus symptoms
  9. Brittleness,
    Crumbling of the nail
  10. Thickening of the nail
  11. Whitish, yellow or
    gray-brown spots in the nail
  12. White or yellowish
    Discoloration on the edge of the nail
  13. Dullness of the nail
  14. Chipping of the nail

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations


After a fungus has attacked the nail bed, a thickening of Nail. This makes the nail unstable and lets him crumble. This becomes particularly clear when cutting the nail, which then simply breaks off completely or incompletely in the area of ​​the nail tip. Furthermore, the Nail color characteristic of a nail fungus. The toenail will mostly cloudy, turns yellowish, brownish in color. The pink shimmering bed of nails disappears. The thickening is also evident and is the first symptom of a fungal nail infestation. The thickening of the nail causes Bulge of the nail being brought out of its original shape. Deformation of the nail is also a sign of nail fungus. It can also happen that parts of the nail separate from the skin. The entire nail seldom comes off, and only if there is severe fungal infection and if treatment is neglected. The fact that parts of the nail can become detached from the skin can also lead to instability of the nail. This instability is then evident from the wobbling of the nail.

Pain from a nail fungus

Of the Nail fungus not only hires for many of those affected cosmetic problem because he can, sometimes even strong pain cause. The complaints express themselves above all while walking. The nail changes due to the fungal attack, it becomes, among other things thicker. The thickened nail no longer finds space in the shoes and presses against it while walking and causes pain in this way.

Furthermore, it also often occurs Ingrowth of the affected nails. The surrounding skin is often reddened and affected by the infection and thus offers a suitable portal of entry for bacteria. These are able to multiply locally, but also to migrate further into the tissue. One speaks then of a Rotlauf or colloquially of one Erysipelas. The affected skin areas are not only red, but also warm and painful.

Also in that nail bed damaged by the fungi can bacteria subsequently migrate, what a Nail bed enlargement as a result. This is also associated with pain, especially when walking in shoes.

Odor of a nail fungus

Nail fungus is not only expressed in unsightly Discoloration and Changes in shape the infected nails, but to the suffering of those affected often by an unsightly one odor. Many of those affected have been suffering from a fungal nail infection for a long time before an unpleasant odor develops. This is because a pure dermatophyte, i.e. fungal infection of the nail does not lead to odor development. This is only the case when additionally bacteria attack the already long infected, damaged nail. The smell is similar to that of sweaty, cheesy ones Feet.

The background is also similar to that of foul smelling sweat. This is odorless at the time of its creation. An unpleasant odor only occurs when Bacteria break down certain parts of sweat. It is the same with nail fungus.

Itching of nail fungus

If there is itching, it is usually not the nail but the foot that is infected with a fungus, which can spread to the toenails. Both infections need treatment.

A pure fungal nail infestation in itself usually causes no itching. For many sufferers, however, it is not just the nail, but also the nail foot affected by the fungal infection. Usually there is one at the beginning Athlete's footinfection, which then spreads to the nail in the course.

Is the Foot infected by the fungus, there is very often one in the affected areas itching in front. This can be confused with an itch from a nail fungus when the additional athlete's foot has affected the skin area around the nail. Both infections should treated to avoid widespread infection.

Nail fungus on the finger

Like that too Nails of the feet, can they Nails of the hands be infested with nail fungus. The affected nails are often discolored, thickened and crumbly. The cause of the fingernail fungus is, as the name can already partially deduce, Thread fungi (Dermatophytes). Dermatophytes can be found almost everywhere in our environment, including on infected animals, in the ground, as well as us People even the Mushrooms get into the nail bed through wounds and cracks and infect the nails in this way. One risk factor poses the wearing of artificial fingernails especially when attaching unclean work has been carried out or the nails are only renewed at sporadic intervals. The dermatophytes are namely able to get into the used Set glueto multiply there and eventually pass over to the natural nail.

The nail infection can also occur with frequent Fingernails varnishing occur, as they are often used nail polishes containing acetone such as nail polish remover Damage the cuticle, making it more accessible to the fungi. Prophylactic should therefore be on acetone-free products to be switched.

The Disease / nail infection is often recognized as such late by those affected. In the early stages, the nail fungus manifests itself primarily through one yellowish discoloration of the affected nail or nails, as well as by a Shape changesuch as a Grooving. These also work frosted and lackluster. In the course of and if the nail fungus is not treated, this discoloration can extend to greenish black swing around. The green-black discoloration mentioned occurs when in addition to the Mushrooms, bacteria colonize the infected nail.

In the advanced stage, the so-called arise Crumb nails. This means that the affected nail has already been destroyed to the point that it is starting to crumble. This turns out to be a crumbly nail noticeable. The danger in the advanced stage and with the presence of crumbly nails is that the nail from this stage onwards permanent damage that can mean that the nail is no longer able to completely regenerate and grow back. Having a fingernail infection with Dermatophytes is contagious. The person affected can not only infect other people but also their own, still healthy nails with the fungus. For this reason, thorough hand hygiene is very important. In addition, so-called Antimyotics, i.e. drugs that are mostly applied locally, help to improve the Eliminate fungus and such a thing Regeneration of the affected nail to enable.

Read a lot more information under our topic: Nail fungus on the finger


Treatment for nail fungus differs depending on the stage and extent of the disease. Affected patients do not always have to resort to expensive medication immediately. Home remedies such as Apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or toothpaste a good alternative to conventional treatment.

In general, if nail fungus is present, the infected nail removed at regular intervals should be. As a constant source of infection, it otherwise transmits the causative fungal spores to healthy nail substance. The nail should be because of this as short as possible being held. Frequent cutting and filing of the affected areas helps to contain the infection quickly. Both nail scissors and the file used should be used after each treatment cleaned with disinfectant become. Sand leaf files cannot be cleaned thoroughly and must therefore disposed of immediately become.

If only the outer edge If the nail has a nail fungus, the treatment can be effective via that Applying various varnishes and ointments respectively. Before applying, the nail surface should be roughened with a file. In addition, it is advisable to scrape the infected areas at least to be partially removed. In this way, the active ingredients can better penetrate the affected nail and develop their effect there. Although the fungus is killed by the application of the varnishes and ointments, the unsightly discoloration on the nail persists for a while. Here the patients have to be patient until new, healthy nails have grown back.
However, these ointments are ineffective if the nail bed is also infected. In such cases, ultimately only the Taking an oral antifungal drug can be used for treatment. Antifungal agents (Antifungal drugs) are deposited directly in the newly growing nail and protect it from colonization by the fungus.

As an alternative to the vinegar essence, pure acetic acid be used. Since pure acetic acid is a much more corrosive substance, the advantage lies in the Nail fungus treatment With acetic acid in the comparatively higher effectiveness.
Due to the higher aggressiveness However, the acetic acid causes local skin reactions and severe burning sensations much more frequently. In addition, the nail surface, which is already attacked by the nail fungus, can be further impaired by the application of pure acetic acid.
The therapy of the nail fungus with acetic acid is the more effective, but also the form of therapy with significantly more side effects.

Treatment with laser

In particular, stubborn nail fungus that does not react successfully to all conventional treatment methods can be tried to be treated with a laser. The principle of this treatment is resolution of the nail using a laser. What used to be tried by pulling the nail can now be done with this new method. Basically there are two disadvantages to nail pulling. One is the increased risk one infection after the procedure as well as one Bleeding. Furthermore, pulling a nail removes the completely affected nail, the Nail bed on the other hand, the one that carries the actual nail fungus is left in its original form. If the new nail grows back, in many cases it comes to again Fungal nail infestation.

Treatment with the laser is in contrast to the conventional method fewer complications. The procedure carries almost no risk of bleeding or infection, it can also help Risk patients and also at Pregnant women applied and carried out successfully. The nail is completely vaporized by means of the laser beams. The structures adjacent to the nail are also destroyed. The top layer of the nail bed is also removed by the laser treatment. This has the consequence that those sitting in the nail bed Spurs and can no longer cause infection in the regrowing nail. The laser treatment is in contrast to the conventional method painless.

A so-called Erbium laser used. This laser was developed in the USA, then tested for a long time in studies and has been in clinical use for some time. Despite the good success rate, the treatment costs are usually not covered by statutory health insurance. There are some private health insurances that cover payment. 70-80% of the treated patients do not have recurrent nail fungus after laser treatment. An infection of another fungus is possible at any time, i.e. the laser treatment only treats the fungus that is currently present and does not prevent new infections.

For this reason, it is advisable to prevent re-infestation of a fungus as much as possible. This is mainly done through regular Disinfect of the foot after a visit to the swimming pool. Furthermore, regular Ventilation of wet rooms and damp rooms. Also should be a Change of shoes should be done at regular intervals to avoid the growth of fungi. A nail fungus treatment with a laser takes about 20-30 minutes. It must be done between 3 or 4 sessions in a row to treat the nail and nail fungus. The costs of a laser treatment add up to 90 euros per session.
Read more on this topic at: Laser nail fungus

Treatment with home remedies

Nail fungus can also be treated with home remedies.

Medicines available in the pharmacy for Fighting nail fungus can very expensive be. For this reason, many sufferers swear by the use of simple home remedies. Next to the Cost factor Many of these natural products impress with their significantly better tolerance and their simple applicability. The most important home remedies for nail fungus are:

1. Tea tree oil and lavender oil

Tea tree or lavender oil is one of the most commonly used home remedies in the treatment of fungal infections of the nail. Both oils are easy to use apply, act quickly and thoroughly and can also be found in most households. Both tea tree and lavender oil will have a strong, antifungal (fungicidal) Reported effect.

In addition, they offer the advantage of no chemical additives to dispose of. Tea tree and lavender oils are completely natural substances, usually no side effects cause. The actual application of the tea tree or lavender oil only takes a few minutes.

The victim of nail fungus soaks a cloth or one Put cotton ball in the oil solution and then distributes them generously on the affected nail. In order to achieve the best possible result, this procedure should be carried out via a One week period approximately three to four times a day be repeated. Already at third day of application can be a first Improvement on the affected nail determine.

Should the nail fungus infestation occur despite regular application of the oil does not go away within 2 weeks, a doctor should be consulted urgently for advice. An alternative to treating nail fungus with tea tree or lavender oil is the Use of olive or oregano oil These home remedies are just as easy to use. The nail should have a longer healing time be admitted.

2. baking powder

Baking powder can be found in almost every household. It is one of the Most Promising Home Remedies in Nail Fungus Treatment. Before applying, that will Baking soda mixed with a little water and liquefied in this way. Finally, the tough mass can be applied to the affected nail. Even the baking soda method is available not effective after a single application. The procedure must be carried out over a period of repeated several times for one to two weeks become. A medical explanation for the effectiveness of baking soda in nail fungus therapy is not yet known.

3. Own urine

This can be done by applying your own urine to the affected nail areas Nail fungus growth inhibited and thus its spread stopped. Although most of the patients affected the Reluctant to use one's own urine, this method impresses with its high effectiveness.
Especially in the early stages, the nail fungus can be completely removed through contact with your own urine. With nail fungus in advanced stage gets involved However, therapy success cannot be guaranteed. Urine can also be used in allergic reactions and various infectious diseases can be used successfully.

4. Garlic

Garlic is a classic among them Home remedies for nail fungus. This home remedy also impresses with one good effectiveness, as well as by its exceedingly simple application. In the nail fungus therapy, the garlic is supposed to develop its effects from the inside out after consumption. The affected patient can use the garlic either to eat raw or to one Squeeze out the juice and then drink it.
Particularly stubbornly affected nail areas can also use Spread garlic juice become. With this method, the first results can be observed after a few days. Garlic cannot just be used to treat nail fungus. He also serves that Prevention of fungal infections and a variety of other diseases.

5. Epsom salts

Another home remedy for nail fungus is Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate). Although very few households have Epsom salt, it can be purchased in most pharmacies or drug stores. To treat the nail fungus, one sprinkles one small amount of salt in a tub filled with. Afterwards the affected person should keep their feet for about half an hour in the Soak the solution to let. First successes can be achieved after approximately one to two weeks to be expected.

6. Toothpaste

By far the cheapest way to treat nail fungus at home is to use toothpaste. The fluorine contained in most toothpastes has an antifungal (fungicidal) effect. The affected nail should be covered with a thick layer of toothpaste. The success of this method can be observed after just a few days.

Treating nail fungus with apple cider vinegar

The most popular home remedy for nail fungus is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is easy to get and inexpensive. In addition, the actual application of this product is quite simple. The vinegar should be used before application diluted 1: 1 with tap water become.

Then the affected patient soaks a cloth or cotton ball in the solution and then rubs it carefully over the nail fungus. It is then important to ensure that the affected nail area completely dried off becomes. The sufferer should also after using the vinegar freshly washed socks attract.

The mechanism of action of apple cider vinegar (all other types of vinegar can also be used) is based on its fungicidal properties. In addition, a foot bath in apple cider vinegar can die Stimulate blood circulation and the Promote the healing process.
Both dabbing the nail and that 10-20 minute foot bath should be over the span of a week at least once a day be performed. The first successful healing of nail fungus should be visible after a few days.

Treatment with tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is originally from Australia and has been used as a natural remedy for many ailments for generations.

It is obtained from the branches and leaves of the tea tree through water distillation and is therefore 100% natural.

His antiseptic, bactericidal (effective against bacteria) and fungicidal (effective against fungi) Effect is scientifically proven and so tea tree oil is used in alternative medicine, e.g. B. for the treatment of acne and psoriasis, dellar warts, as well as muscle pain, open wounds, rheumatism, smoker's cough, varicose veins and last but not least fungal diseases such as nail fungus.

Tea tree oil consists of around 100 different substances, such as cineole and terpinene.
Tea tree oil is available for little money in every drugstore and pharmacy, and because of its naturalness, many side effects of chemical preparations are eliminated.

However, when using tea tree oil, you should always pay attention to an appropriate dosage or dilution, otherwise the skin can be dried out or irritated.
Recommendations for use and dosage are provided with the product when you buy it; if in doubt, it is better to seek advice from the pharmacist.

Tea tree oil can be used both for the prevention of nail fungus, for example with frequent visits to the swimming pool, and for the treatment of nail fungus. A small plaster or a gauze bandage can be soaked in tea tree oil and applied to the diseased nail, or the affected nail can simply be rubbed with the oil several times a day.
A foot bath with a few drops of tea tree oil can also prevent and fight nail fungus, and it also prevents unpleasant foot odor and excessive perspiration.

Polish for nail fungus

In this case, nail polish has no aesthetic function.

Applying a special varnish against nail fungus only makes sense if less than 70% of the nail bed is affected are. The commercially available varnish for nail fungus therapy is based on the active ingredients:

  • Bifonazole
  • Clotrimazole
  • Ciclopirox
  • Amorolfin

manufactured. All of these active ingredients are used in pharmacy Antifungal group counted and unfold their effect through the direct Killing of nail fungus.

The choice of the appropriate active ingredient depends on the type of nail fungus. In order to determine which varnish must be used for the treatment, a Sample from the affected nail can be removed.

Special varnish against nail fungus can without hesitation over a longer period of time be applied. Before applying the varnish, the affected nail softened become. Only in this way can it be ensured that the active ingredient can penetrate to the nail bed and its Develop antifungal effects can. The varnish against nail fungus is usually transparent and waterproof. In this way, it is neither perceived as disturbing by the patient concerned, nor does he let himself go when washing hands rinse off.

By applying the paint, a Fungal attack on the nail and the nail bed can be effectively contained and treated. As a rule, the first results of the treatment of nail fungus can be seen after a few days. The effect of the varnish is not affected even after applying a colored nail varnish at the same time. In order to completely remove the nail fungus, the varnish should also be used after Disappearance of symptoms yet applied for some time become.

Tablets for nail fungus

Once a large part of the nail bed (more than 70%) is infected by the fungus, the application of a special varnish can no longer achieve a sufficient effect. The infected nail bed ensures that the newly formed nail substance immediately infected again. For this reason, the affected patient must immediately receive a Treatment with the help of tablets be initiated.

The therapy of the nail fungus takes place via oral antifungal agents (Antifungal agents). These accumulate in the growing nail and protect it from infection. Must have antifungal drugs urgently consistent be taken. The application should continue until the complete nail grown out and new nail substance has emerged.

In the case of fingernails, this can between three and six months last. Toenails usually grow much more slowly, the duration of treatment is correspondingly longer. The tablets against nail fungus have a Number of side effects on. In addition, they can greatly affect the effectiveness of other tablets. Consultation with a doctor before starting to take tablets is therefore urgently necessary.

In general it can be stated that the external treatment of nail fungus (using home remedies, varnish or creams) is much gentler. Therapy should be because of this started asap become. Once a Most of the nail bed is affected, treatment can only still by taking pills respectively.

Which doctor should I go to?

At the latest when the independent treatment of nail fungus no effect shows should consulted a doctor immediately become. Many patients suffering from nail fungus, however, ask themselves which doctor is the right contact for this clinical picture.

When in doubt, always start first the treating family doctor turn. This can coordinate the further procedure and organize a suitable specialist. Which doctor is suitable for the treatment of the nail fungus depends on the person Severity of illness from. In some cases the therapy of medical nail care workers be performed.


In most cases, fungal nail infections are caused by so-called Dermatophyteswhich are mainly found in moist warm Can stop and multiply the area. It is the spores that then affect the Nail bed can put and annoying Infections being able to lead. There is an increased risk of infection, especially in swimming pools and saunas. Indications of a fungal nail infection can be sudden Discoloration of the nail, one thickening, and a Crumble and Break be of the nail. Furthermore one also indicates Nail instability towards a fungal attack. Numerous chemicals for application are available in the pharmacy to treat a nail fungus. vinegar destroys the basic environment of the fungus and causes it to die. In the case of fungi that are difficult to treat, a novel Laser treatment used, which evaporates the nail and destroys the fungus underneath.