Fungal nail infections can be treated with oral medication and topical medication. Picture: Pexels
Nail fungus begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail.

It may cause your nail to discolour, thicken and crumble at the edge.

It’s something people often overlook, but with spring in full swing, not everyone is happy to trade their boots and sneakers for open-toe shoes or sandals because of the condition of their toenails.

A Pharmaceutical Journal published study from 2018 explained fungal nail infection was a “mycotic infection” caused by fungal invasion of the nail structure and was one of the most common nail disorders.

It’s also more common with older people.

Marion Yau, a podiatrist and research investigator at the Harley Medical Foot and Nail Laser Clinic, London, said the increased incidence among older people may be attributed to reduced peripheral circulation, diabetes, inactivity, immunosuppression, and reduced nail growth and quality

Various fungal organisms affecting the nail and nail bed caused the nail to become yellowish. The type of fungal organism would depend on the nail’s appearance and degree of discolouration.

Cape Town podiatrist Christian Olivier, from Treating Your Sole, said a common reason for yellow nails was trauma – bumping, stubbing or breaking a nail.

Olivier said this made the nail appear yellowish as the nail had lifted off the nail bed – the nail had probably lost its source of nourishment and therefore dried and changed colour.

He said a fungal nail infection could occur from the overgrowth of fungus in, under, or on the nail.

Fungus mostly thrived in warm, moist environments, which caused it to overpopulate – as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm.

If you suspected you had a fungal and or any toenail infection, Olivier said you should see a podiatrist, who could make an accurate diagnosis.

Fungal infections can be treated with oral medication and topical medication.

The latest, most successful treatment is laser treatment.

Also, when going for pedicures, you also needed to make sure your beautician was sterilising, not disinfecting, her files and clippers between clients, as many of these infections were spread in such environments.

There are over-the-counter products for fungal infections available.

However, even if treatment was successful, nail fungus often returned and required further treatment.