Fungal infection of the nails is one of the most common problems seen our medical practice. We get patients with this problem on a daily basis especially during the summer and monsoon season. This problem is referred to as ONYCHOMYCOSIS in medical terms where onycho is nail and mycosis indicates a fungal infection. Though majority of my patients suffering from this problem are women this infection seems to affect men more.


The causative agents are fungi better known as Dermatophytes. But other types of fungi like Molds can also cause this problem. These fungi do not need sunlight to survive and hence thrive in warm, moist environments such as swimming pools, showers, damp areas. These fungi enter the nails or your skin through tiny cracks or cuts or even through a separation between your nail and nail bed. If you have a tendency to perspire a lot in your palms and soles then you are at risk for developing fungal infection of the nails. The other risk factors are listed below.

1. Age – this is one of the main risk factors for Onychomycosis. This is because the older you are the slower is the rate of growth of your nails. Also as you age your nails tend to thicken making them more susceptible to getting infected.

2. Diabetes and other chronic disorders – if you are diabetic or have some other chronic problems like poor circulation or a weakened immune system then you are risk for developing infection of the nails.

3. Injury – any injury or damage to the nails can give an opportunity for the fungi to enter and multiply causing infection.

4. Smoking – adding to the list of health hazards caused by smoking, onychomycosis is another reason to quit today if you are a smoker.

5. Work environment – if you are working in a hot and humid environment then you are at risk for getting fungal infections of the nails.

6. Socks and Shoes – if you are wearing socks or shoes which do not allow your feet to breathe then watch out for onychomycosis. If there is no ventilation the perspiration produced during the day remains and does not get absorbed therefore leading to problems.

7. Walking Barefoot – this is unique to our culture. We tend to walk barefoot in our houses and also in certain public places. This gives the fungus an opportunity to enter our nails and skin and cause problems. Fungal infections tend to affect the toenails more than fingernails because toenails are mostly confined to a dark, moist environment inside your shoes. Also if there is a family history of this problem you are more at risk than if there is no family history.


Normally most people first notice a tiny spot white or yellow in colour below the nail. This then spreads and your nail thickens gradually. Also the nail becomes brittle and crumbles from the slightest pressure. The shape eventually gets distorted and ragged. They can appear flat, dull due to the loss of luster and shine. The colour can change to yellow, green, black. This is due to the debris, which gets collected below the affected nail. Finally the entire nail may separate from the nail bed and fall off. This can be very painful at times. There may be an offensive smell coming from the nail. If you are diabetic or have a poor immunity then this infection may spread causing the formation of an open sore or ulcer. This is a serious complication, which should be tackled immediately. The nail can be damaged permanently if not treated correctly and in time.

HOW CAN THIS PROBLEM BE PREVENTED? The best way to avoid fungal infections is to maintain a high level of hygiene. Here are a few tips on how to care for your hands and feet.

1. Always keep your fingernails and toenails short. Cut them straight and file down the thickened areas. Also make sure that they are dry and clean. After having a bath dry the toenails and even the area between the toes.

2. Avoid putting your hands or feet in water constantly.

3. Watch out for your manicures and pedicures. If the manicure or pedicure is done in a wrong way or with using contaminated instruments then you are at risk for developing onychomycosis.

4. Too much nail polish and or wearing artificial nails tends to trap moisture, which will allow the fungi to thrive.

5. As mentioned earlier walking barefoot in damp or public places like swimming pools and showers makes you more susceptible to acquiring this infection.

6. Do not tear the skin around the nails r trim it. The slightest injury or cut allows the fungi to enter the nail.

7. Wear cotton socks, which will absorb the moisture and keep your feet dry. It is a good habit to remove your shoes occasionally especially after exercising. If possible alternate between wearing open-toe and closed-toe shoes.


There are several over the counter medications available for fungal infections. Over the counter anti-fungal creams and powders are the most popular however they are not very effective and have their own side-effects. Anti-fungal drugs are next to be prescribed however even these can cause severe side-effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage. They are also not very effective and eventually the infection recurs. The patient should be given the correct Homoeopathic remedy in order to cure the problem and not just give temporary relief. Here are a few remedies found effective in cases of Onychomycosis.

If the nails are thick, brittle, and grow out of shape then this remedy should be thought of. Here the edge of the nail is discoloured, yellowish or blackish. The nails grow slowly and split. These individuals also have a tendency to develop warts and other skin problems. Antimonium Crud 30, 5 pills four times a day will improve the quality of the nails and treat the infection.

This remedy is said to be the Homoeopathic specific for hard nails and onychomycosis in old age. Here the nails grow unevenly, some areas are thick whereas some are very thin and break easily. They are usually discoloured looking blackish. Fluoric acid nails crumble very easily and have a corrugated appearance. Sometimes the nail may be sore to touch. Fluoric Acid 200, 5 pills given four times a day should help in these cases.

This is a wonderful remedy for many problems arising from cold damp weather and working in wet conditions. Here the nails looked ribbed and are brittle. They become soft and discolouration takes place. A thuja patient suffers from acrid foot sweat with predisposes him to develop fungal infections. The nails crumble on slight touch and become distorted.

Thuja 200, 5 pills four times a day will remove the fungal infection.

In Graphites the nails appear thick, black, and rough. A thin sticky discharge may be secreted by the affected toenail. The nail looks crippled and deformed. Sometimes this condition can be painful as the root gets inflamed. A graphites patient suffers from offensive foot sweat which aggravates the fungal infection. The skin is also prone to develop cracks and fissures.

Graphites 30, 5 pills in repeated doses will help cure this infection.

This article has been written in order to make the reader aware of what onychomycosis or fungal infection of the nails is. Also before using any of the over the counter remedies or listening to what your manicurist says consult your Homoeopath for this purpose.