Anyone can get toenail fungus, but the likelihood of infection increases with age.
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is an infection caused by a fungus that grows under the surface of the nail. The infection is often first noticed as a white or yellow area under your toenail, usually at the tip. As it worsens, toenail fungus can cause deformity of the nail, discoloration, thickening of the nail, separation of the nail from the nail bed, and crumbling of the nail. It is often unsightly and painful, sometimes interfering with the ability to walk. Left untreated, the infection can spread to additional toenails, skin, or fingernails.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Anyone can get toenail fungus, but the likelihood of infection increases with age. Individuals suffering from a chronic disease, including circulatory problems and diabetes, also have an increased risk of developing a toenail infection. Fungi thrive in areas that are damp, so wearing shoes without ventilation and walking around barefoot in damp places like swimming pools and public showers increase your risk of developing toenail fungus. Trauma to the nail makes you more susceptible to fungal infection.
Fungal Nail Treatment
Seek help from a podiatrist if you notice any of the signs of toenail fungus, such as discoloration, deformity, or thickening. The earlier your podiatrist is able to diagnose the problem, the better the chances are for getting rid of it completely. Your doctor will recommend treatment for toenail fungus based on the condition of the infection. Topical or oral anti-fungal medication is often a common starting treatment, as is debridement, a procedure that removes debris and diseased nail matter. Laser treatment employs the latest technological advances in eliminating toenail fungus and can be an effective option. Surgery may also be performed by a foot specialist, usually as a last resort. Surgery can remove the infected nail temporarily to allow for direct application of antifungal medication, or it can permanently remove a nail that has not responded to other treatments and continues to be painful. Always follow the directions of your doctor.
Toenail Fungus Prevention
Keeping your feet clean and dry is important in preventing toenail fungus. Some tips to help you avoid an infection include:
- Wear shoes that breathe
- Dry your feet completely after showering
- Wear flip flops or shower shoes when using public showers
- Disinfect nail clippers and home pedicure tools
- Use antifungal powders or sprays
- Wear socks made of materials that wick moisture
- Change your socks if they become damp and sweaty
If you are concerned about toenail fungus and are looking for a doctor come by and see us. Our experienced doctors can answer your questions and help you get the best treatment possible.