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.
A fungal toenail infection, also known as onychomycosis, often starts as a small white or yellow spot under the tip of one of your toenails. It is not usually painful or uncomfortable at this stage but as the infection goes deeper into your nail bed your nail begins to thicken and get brittle and crumbly at the edges. The whole nail will begin to be discolored due to the buildup of debris under the nail. The nail will look dull and not shiny. Eventually, the nail may even separate from the nail bed and this can be quite painful.
At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists we treat many cases of fungal toenails in the summer months. This is because fungi love moist, warm conditions. Places like public pools, changing rooms and rest rooms at the beach, nail salons and picnic pavilions at the lake are all likely to see lots of barefoot traffic. These are the perfect places for the fungus to flourish.
Our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Dr. Carl Conui, D.P.M., or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M, will need to examine the nail and possibly have some of the debris analyzed by the lab to see what type of fungi is causing the infection. This will determine the treatment. Fungal infections can take a long time to go away. The foot doctor may prescribe an oral or topical medication. Other treatments include debridement, which is cleaning out the debris from under the nail and partial or total removal of the infected nail. It is not uncommon for nail infections to reoccur.
Of course the best scenario is not to get a fungal infection. Here are some ways to protect your nails:
Wash feet every day and dry completely
Keep nails trimmed short and straight across
Do not go barefoot in public places
Don’t wear overly tight hosiery and look for socks made of material that wicks moisture away from your feet
Don’t use nail polish on nails you think may be infected. Always disinfect home pedicure tools and if you have professional pedicures make sure your salon properly sanitizes tools and foot baths
Use anti-fungal powder on feet
If possible, rotate shoes so that you don’t wear the same pair two days in a row
If you have any concerns about changes you notice in your toenails, make an appointment at our Reading office at your earliest convenience.
Did you get everything on your holiday wish list this year? Chances are that even if you did, your feet may not have received the special treatment they deserve, especially after all the overtime they put in for you during this festive season. Why not give yourself one of these post-holiday presents:
- A Pedicure Set: Women and men both need to take good care of their toenails. Nails need to be cut short and straight across—no curved edges—to prevent ingrown toenails. If you go for professional pedicures at a salon and have your own tools, you’ll be assured that they have not come in contact with any bacteria or fungus which can lead to athlete’s foot or fungal nails.
- Fitting at a Sports Shoe Store: If you run, play tennis or basketball or another sport, a professional fitting at a specialty sports shoe store will ensure shoes that fit your sport and your feet. Many sports injuries are prevented by wearing well-fitting shoes designed specifically for the activity being done.
- Wool Socks: Not only will these keep your feet warm, socks made of natural materials breathe better than ones made of synthetic materials. If possible, choose ones that are designed to wick moisture away from your skin. Moisture from sweaty feet that gets trapped in socks and shoes without airflow greatly increases the chance of developing bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and nails of the feet.
- A Super Rich Moisturizer: A thick, extra emollient moisturizer not only feels luxurious to apply to feet (especially ones tired from lots of holiday activity!) but will also help fight dry skin, which is very common in cold winter months. Keeping skin moisturized will prevent painful cracks which can lead to bacterial infections.
At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., and Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. want everyone to have the gift of healthy feet. After all, your feet carry the rest of your body and make it possible to work, play, and enjoy the lifestyle you have. If you have any pain or discomfort in your feet, or just have questions about how to better care for your feet, schedule a consultation at either our Reading office.