Posts for tag: Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is a common problem that can be rather challenging to get rid of. While toenail fungus can happen to anyone it most often occurs in older adults. If you are noticing that one of your toenails has thickened, become brittle and turned yellow then chances are good that you are dealing with a toenail fungus.
What causes a fungal infection in the toenail?
A toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is the result of a fungal known as a dermatophyte. While less common, molds and yeasts can also infect the toenails. The reason older adults are more prone to fungal nail infections is because nails dry out as we age, which leads to cracks within the nail. These cracks make it easier for a fungal infection to get inside the nail.
Fungal is all around us. They are more often found in warm, dark, and damp places such as communal locker rooms and showers, gyms, and local swimming pools. It’s also possible to get a toenail fungus from a nail salon so it’s important to know the hygiene and sterilization practices of your local nail salon to make sure that you aren’t at risk for developing a fungal infection.
Treating Toenail Fungus
The good news it that healthy individuals may be able to tackle their toenail fungus on their own with over-the-counter medication. If you don’t have a weak immune system, diabetes or circulation problems then you may choose to try at-home treatments first before turning to a doctor. Those with circulation disorders or diabetes should see their podiatrist right away for treatment if they notice symptoms of a fungal infection. Not seeking treatment could greatly increase a person’s risk for bacterial infections and other potentially serious complications.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat fungal infections. You will want to find a treatment that is geared specifically to treating fungal infections of the nail. Talk with your local pharmacist to find out the best treatment option. Over-the-counter antifungal medications often come in the form of a cream, ointment or nail polish that you will need to apply regularly for several weeks. If these medications don’t work then it’s time to talk with your foot doctor.
A foot doctor offers a variety of effective strategies for getting rid of toenail fungal infections. The most common treatment option is an oral antifungal medication that works systemically to kill the fungus. This medication is taken for several weeks but you won’t actually see results until the nail grows out clear, which can take up to four months or longer.
Other treatment options include:
- Medicated nail polish
- Laser fungal treatment
- Nail removal surgery (in rare cases)
If you are dealing with a pesky nail fungus then turn to your podiatrist to discover the best strategies for getting rid of this infection as quickly as possible.
Treating toenail fungus
Toenail fungus--it's one of the most common podiatric problems children, teens, and adults have. Causing thickened, yellow, brittle nails, onychomycosis (the medical name for toenail fungus) spreads easily and can be stubborn to treat. If you see one or more of your toenails changing shape, color, and texture, see your foot doctor right away. They have the expertise and treatments to give you ten clear toenails once again.
How toenail fungus starts
The micro-organism thrives in dark, moist environments--sweaty socks and sneakers being prime candidates. Additionally, shared towels, nail clippers, shower room floors, and pool decks breed toenail and Athlete's Foot fungus. In fact, if you suffer periodic outbreaks of itchy, uncomfortable Athlete's Foot, you're more prone to onychomycosis, says the American Academy of Dermatology.
Conquering toenail fungus
Your foot doctor sees scores of patients with toenail fungus. Visual inspection is the main diagnostic tool, and for mild cases of onychomycosis, the podiatrist may recommend creams or ointments applied topically. Oral medications are an option as well.
Additionally, modern podiatry offers innovative laser treatments which kill the micro-organism right where it lives. Painless and very effective, laser treatments are applied to all ten toenails to prevent re-infection.
Unfortunately, toenail fungal infections can become quite severe and spread to the nail bed. When infection is severe, the podiatrist may advise complete removal of the toenail to prevent further problems.
Prevention is best
Of course, if you can avoid toenail fungus, your feet and nails will look and feel their best, and you won't be embarrassed to wear open-toed shoes or sandals in the warm weather. However, some people are more prone to this common infection--diabetics, those with poor peripheral circulation and individuals who are immunosuppressed.
Regardless, your podiatrist recommends these preventive measures for healthy, fungus-free nails:
- Wash your feet with soap and water daily, and dry them with a clean towel.
- Clip your toenails straight across with a clean clippers.
- Wear clean socks daily.
- Change your gym shoes after a workout. In fact, alternate pairs if possible, letting your footwear dry out between wearings.
- Wear flip-flops or shower sandals in the locker room and poolside, too.
- Walking barefoot in wet public areas. Walking without shoes in swimming pools, showers or gyms can increase your chances of a fungal infection.
- Sweating heavily. If your feet are constantly sweaty, fungus will be more likely to survive and thrive near your toes in your shoe.
- Diabetes. Diabetes restricts the flow of blood to the extremities. Because of this, your immune system will be less prepared to fight off the fungal infection.
- Poor shoes. If you wear shoes that do not ventilate or effectively absorb perspiration well, fungus will be able to thrive near your feet.
Options To Treat Fungal Toenails
Preventing & Eliminating Fungal Toenails
Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. When there is trauma to the nail, the nail bed is lifted allowing fungus to penetrate and invade the nail bed. Without treatment, the fungus can grow and spread in dark, warm, moist environments, such as socks and shoes.
Common signs and symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- Discoloring or yellowing of the nail
- Thickening or crumbling of the nail
- Swelling around the nail
- Disfigured nails
- Streaks or spots down the side of the nail
- Foul-smelling debris under the nail
- Pain and discomfort
- Complete nail loss
Prevention is key
Fungal infections can affect the fingernails as well as the toenails, but toenail fungus is more difficult to treat because toenails grow more slowly. Because removal of the fungus is challenging, prevention plays an important role in treatment.
- Keep nails neatly trimmed
- Practice good foot hygiene, including daily washing with soap and water; drying feet and toes carefully; and changing shoes regularly
- Always wear shoes in public areas, such as showers, locker rooms and pools
- Wear comfortable shoes that aren't too tight
- Avoid nail polish which can seal in fungus
Treatment of toenail fungus
If you do develop toenail fungus, especially if the infection becomes painful, visit Daniel Methuselah, DPM. People with a chronic illness like diabetes should always see a podiatrist if they notice changes in their nails as it may be an indication of more serious problems.
To eliminate the fungus, a podiatrist may remove as much of the infected nail as possible by trimming, filing or dissolving it. Oral or topical antifungal medications may also be prescribed to treat the infection. Only for severe, chronic infections will surgical removal of the nail be recommended. Our Irmo office can help diagnose the cause of your toenail problems and make the best recommendation for treatment.