Donate For AAD Members Search

American Academy of Dermatology Logo

What kids should know about nail infections

Sometimes germs can invade your nail or the skin underneath and cause an infection. The most common type of germ that causes nail infections is called a fungus. 

Fungal infections:

  • Are more likely in toenails than fingernails. That's because a fungus is more likely to grow in warm and wet places, which might happen if you wear shoes or boots that make your feet hot and sweaty.

  • Can happen if you walk barefoot at pools or in public showers.

  • Might make a nail turn white, green or yellow. Sometimes it makes your nail thicker and causes it to pull away from your skin.

  • If a nail turns brown or black you should see a skin doctor as soon as possible.


If you get an infection, your parents should take you to a skin doctor (dermatologist). The skin doctor can give you medicine that will clear it up. Cream you can buy at the store usually doesn't work.

The best thing to do is to keep your nails clean and dry to try to avoid infections in the first place.

Find a dermatologist by location
Advanced search
Find a dermatologist by name
Advanced search