1.a small, often hard, abnormal elevation on the skin, usually caused by a papomavirus.

2.any small protuberance, as on the surface of certain plants, the skinof certain animals, etc.

3.any unattractive detrimental feature or aspect.


[fuhng-guh l] 


1. fungous.


Particularly with the recent increase in advertising campaigns from pharmaceutical companies, Podiatrists are often presented with toenails that people suspect as showing fungal infection.

Fungal toenail infections can occur in any person of any age, but are often mis-diagnosed. Importantly, a nail with a fungal infection can look very similar to a nail that has been traumatised/damaged in the past. Because damaging a toenail is usually not a very memorable experience, we can often overlook this a potential cause of the thickening or discolouration that develops over time, and think that something more sinister is to blame.


The family of fungal spores that infect toenails thrive on a particular substance in the nail called keratin, which specifically gives our nails their hardened exterior and structure. As the spores destroy the keratin layers, a fungally-infected nail becomes softer and can separate or fracture, leaving a thicker but distinctly weakened nail that can no longer protect the toe. Traumatising a toenail by dropping something on it, stubbing it, or wearing shoes that are too restrictive can also lead to a thicker nail, but there are subtle differences that a Podiatrist can identify and provide accurate treatment advice for.