How can I tell I have a nail infection?

Dr. Marie Jhin, a dermatologist in the SF Bay Area, continues to answer your questions on nail infections.

A nail infection is the result of a fungus, yeast, or mold attacking the nail or the skin under the nail.

What signs should I look for?

  • Nails that are thick
  • Yellowness on the nail
  • Nails that have split from the skin, and have started to crumble

A common type of fungus that attacks nails, White Superficial Onychomycosis, has a specific set of symptoms:

  • White spots on the nails
  • A powdery nail surface that gets worse as the infection progresses
  • Damaged, crumbly, brown nail surface, which remains connected to the skin underneath

What puts me most at risk for getting a nail infection?

  • Being over 60 years old
  • Having cuts near the fingernails, a hangnail or ingrown nail
  • Being someplace where your hands or feet are moist and sweaty

Where did I pick up my nail infection?

The most common places are those that have a lot of people coming and going and that are hot and moist (an ideal environment for fungus), such as a public shower, or places with shared equipment, such as nail salons. Make sure you wear sandals in gym showers and check that your nail salon is using clean equipment.

For most people in good health, a nail infection is nothing to worry about.  However, if an individual with a weakened immune system or diabetes experiences a nail infection, medical attention is needed.

Check back in on Friday to learn how to treat your nail infection!

If you have a nail infection and are interested in learning how to treat it, contact Robert, our Patient Manager, to schedule an appointment. He can be reached at or by phone at 415-371-8600 (SF office) or 650-551-9700 (Peninsula office).