Nail Fungal Groups Explained

Some people simply want to have a problem go away when they have one.  Others want to know the ins and outs of the problem and want to know why they go it. This article if for the curious who want to understand fungal infections better.  What is toe nail fungus anyway, and where did it come from?

What is Toe Nail Fungus, Anyway?

Toe nail fungus, actually named onychomycosis, is an infection that you find on the nails of both hands and feet.  It's a fungal infection and it occurs more often on the toenails, as these are usually covered and easily prone to infections.  The problem starts when the fungus breaks down keratin, the strong protein that protects the nail.  The fungus enters into a nail by going between the hard nail plate and the soft nail bed.  With time, more debris and fungus develops under the nail, causing the nail to become discolored.  At this point, the nail may separate from the nail bed and fall off; it may become very thick or it may become misshaped and strange looking.

Groups of Fungi

Here is an explanation of some of the various groups of fungi that cause the most common fungal infections.


Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton interdigitale - Most nail fungal infections around the world come from this group. This fungus was first discovered in 1845 and it is also the one that causes ringworm, athlete's foot, and jock itch.

Yeasts - including Candida albicans - Women are more familiar with this type of infection since it's also what causes vaginal yeast infections. What many people don't know is that yeast can also cause nail fungus problems from water exposure. If someone is a dish washer, for instance, and constantly has his hands immersed in water, yeast has a chance to grow between the fingers.  This is particularly true if the person doesn't dry his hands often enough or properly.  The treatment for this type of fungus infection may be different than much of the advice that you see for nail fungus problems, because not all treatments work as well for Candida albicans as they do for trichophyton rubrum.

Aspergillus is another type of mold that can create nail fungus problems. This is a fungus which does best in places with a lot of oxygen.  People are probably most familiar with this fungus from molds that grow on old bread.  Molds can also affect people - particularly those over 60, making them more likely to get this type of fungal infection.

Education Equals Cure

Nail fungal problems will not simply disappear with time.  They need to be treated.  Knowing the various types of fungi that can cause the problem should help you to identify the issue that you have and to seek treatment.  Take your nail fungus problem seriously and research the various treatment methods that can allow you to have beautiful nails once again!