What Causes a Fungal Nail Infection?

What Causes Fungal Nail Infections?

Three types of fungi can cause a fungal nail infection, also referred to as onychomycosis (on-ee-koh-my-ko-sis): dermatophytes, yeast, and mold. The most common cause of fungal nail infections is dermophytes. If it is a yeast infection, the culprit is usually the Candida species. On occasion, fungal nail infections are caused by mold. All three can affect both the toenails and the fingernails and can be very difficult to get rid of. Still, they can also all be treated with the same Naturasil products.


Dermatophytes cause most fungal nail infections and can grow not only on the nails but also on the skin and hair. This triple threat invader can be found anywhere from clothing, shoes, and nail clippers to locker room floors and showers. Fungi thrive in humid environments, making places like indoor swimming pool floors and athletic supporters ideal homes.

Yeast is also a type of fungus which is usually present in the human body to some capacity. Anything that may lower your body’s immune response, such as illness or immune system problems, can allow the existing yeast populations to grow out of control. Even taking an antibiotic can trigger growth. Yeast, usually Candida, can grow on the skin and nails, but unlike dermatophytes, it cannot grow on hair.

Mold, which is referred to as a non-dermatophyte, is also a fungus. The types of mold that can cause nail infections in the soil can also grow on the skin and nails. So, for all of you gardeners out there, make sure you buy yourself a pair of nice, sturdy gardening gloves to prevent nail infections!

Once you have come into contact with the fungus, it may begin to grow on your skin (i.e., athlete’s foot) which is then transferred to your nail, or it may start on your nails. These infections usually affect the nail bed, the skin underneath the nail, and the actual nail. Once you have a nail infection, you are much more easily susceptible to recurring nail infections. You will need to take extra precautions in the future.

While these risk factors do not guarantee that you will get a jock itch, they increase your risk for this and other fungal infections.