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Nail Disorders Specialist

Dan Preece, DPM & Darren Groberg, DPM

Board Certified Foot and Ankle Surgeons located in Salt Lake City, UT

Fungal infections can make your nails thick, hard, and prone to breakage. The team at Dan Preece, DPM & Darren Groberg, DPM, a branch of Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists, in Salt Lake City, Utah, diagnoses and treat a variety of nail disorders. Without proper treatment, fungal infections can leave your nails brittle and crumbly. If you think you have a nail disorder or fungal infection, call the expert podiatrists or book an appointment online.

Nail Disorders Q & A

What is a fungal nail infection?

A fungus is an organism that grows in moist, warm environments. While a fungal infection can infect your fingernails, they’re most commonly found in toenails. Toenail fungus often begins as a small white or yellow spot near the tip of your nail. Over time, this fungus spreads until it infects your entire nail.

How do I know if I have a fungal nail infection?

While there are many reasons your nails may change in color or strength, some of the most common signs of a toenail fungal infection include:

  • Whiteish, yellow- or brown-colored nails
  • Crumbly nails
  • Thick nails that break easily
  • Deformed nails
  • Brittle nails
  • Foul-smelling feet
  • Debris buildup underneath the nails

Because a fungal infection can make your nails extremely thick, hard, and brittle, they’re more prone to cracking when you stub your toe or wear shoes that are too tight. 

What causes a fungal nail infection?

Certain yeasts and molds can cause a fungal infection of the nails, but the most common culprit is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. In many cases, toenail fungus begins as a skin infection called tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot. Over time, this infection can spread underneath the nail, causing it to thicken and change in color.

Some of the most common risk factors for a fungal infection of the nails include:

  • Low blood circulation
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heavy sweating
  • Sweaty or wet socks
  • Walking barefoot in moist communal areas
  • Diabetes
  • Skin or nail injury
  • Having a skin condition (psoriasis, eczema, etc.)

One of the most important risk factors for nail infections is age. While anybody can get a fungal infection, they’re far more common in older adults. This occurs because of reduced blood flow, more years of exposure to certain fungi, and slow-growing nails.

How is a fungal nail infection treated?

The first step in treating a fungal nail infection is diagnosing it. Your podiatrist may take nail clippings or scrape debris from underneath your nails to determine the type of fungus causing your infection.

Fungal nail infections can be difficult to treat, which is why the team at Dan Preece, DPM & Darren Groberg, DPM, uses a variety of modalities to eliminate the infection at its source. Some of the most common fungal infection treatments include:

Oral antifungal medications

Oral medications, such as terbinafine and itraconazole, are typically more effective at treating a fungal nail infection than topical remedies. While you should take oral antifungal drugs for 6-12 weeks, you may not notice that your fungus is gone until your new nail grows in.

Antifungal cream

An antifungal cream can be effective if you soak your nails before rubbing it in. However, your podiatrist may recommend thinning the nails first to help the medication properly penetrate your nails and reach the infection.

Antifungal nail polish

Ciclopirox is an antifungal nail polish that you apply to your nails and surrounding skin once a day. Depending on the severity of your fungus, you may need to use it for up to a year.


If previous treatments haven’t cleared your infection, your podiatrist may recommend temporarily removing the infected nail to apply medication directly underneath the nail. In severe cases, the nail may need to be removed altogether.

A fungal nail infection can be uncomfortable and painful. To schedule an appointment with Dan Preece, DPM & Darren Groberg, DPM, call the office or book a visit online.