Nail fungus can be treated with oral antifungal drugs, medicated nail polish and medicated nail cream. Antifungal pills are considered most effective, according to WebMD. In severe cases, the nail is surgically removed to treat the fungal infection; it can take up to a year to fully regrow, explains Mayo Clinic.
Thick, yellow or white nails that crumble are the primary symptoms of nail fungus. If untreated, the nail may eventually split or separate. The infection can spread to other nails and become increasingly painful. In people with weak immune systems, a nail fungus infection can cause serious complications, states WebMD.
A nail fungus infection is caused by a variety of microorganisms, including yeasts and molds. These same organisms cause athlete's foot. The microorganisms grow best in warm, moist and dark places, notes WebMD. Prevent fungal infections from developing by completely washing and drying the feet, wearing well-ventilated shoes and wearing socks. Shoes should be allowed to air out for 24 hours after use.
Nail fungal infections are contagious. Avoid sharing or contracting nail fungus by not sharing personal items, such as nail clippers or socks, and wearing footwear in public spaces, especially pools and shower areas, according to WebMD.