Toenail fungus (Onychomycosis) is an infection that can adversely affect a toenail or even multiple toenails. It’s most often caused by a dermatophyte, which is simply a fungus that starts on the outer layers of the skin and progresses to the nail plate.
This condition causes a nail to become thickened and discolored, resulting in an unpleasant appearance. It often makes cutting the nail difficult. Toenail fungus can also sometimes cause pain. If the infection spreads from one nail to another, this pain can worsen. Those with toenail fungus might also notice a bad foot odor, which can lead to discomfort as well as embarrassment.
However, you’re not alone with this problem. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, twenty percent of the overall population and seventy-five percent of people over sixty suffer from toenail fungus. Men seem particularly susceptible to toenail fungal infections.
If you have toenail fungus and over-the-counter treatments haven’t worked for you, then you should consult a doctor for an evaluation. Various types of treatments are available to get rid of this condition.
Prescription topical or oral medications are options when over-the-counter medications have failed. For certain patients, these are quite effective. For others, the medications might cause stomach problems or skin irritation. Even the kidney and liver can, in some cases, be negatively affected, and thus these medications cannot be effectively used by everyone.
Complete removal of the nail is another option. The procedure, performed in a clinic or right in the doctor’s office, involves removing only the diseased part of the nail. This treatment option is generally done when a large portion of the nail has become infected. The patient may experience some short-term pain, and growing back the nail will take a bit of time.
If none of the toenail fungus treatments mentioned above have worked, or they aren’t possible solutions due to medical or other reasons, another option does exist. Because of advances in this field, laser treatment is now also available. The FDA first approved laser treatments in 2010 to help solve toenail fungus problems. Since that time, treatments have improved and research is still ongoing.
How Laser Treatment Works:
The doctor passes an advanced dermatologic laser through the infected toenail. The light kills any organisms that have caused the fungus. No damage to the nail or the skin occurs, making this a safe, quick, and painless treatment. Some patients will feel, at most, warmth and/or a small prick. The consultation and procedure last approximately thirty minutes on average. Improvement is typically noticed after one treatment, though multiple treatments will promote an even better result.
Advantages of Laser Treatment:
- Simple – You don’t need to remember to apply creams or take medication.
- Fast – Long-term treatments are not required.
- Effective – Most patients see a major difference after one treatment.
- No Side Effects – You won’t need to worry about pain or other complications.
- No Recovery Period – After treatment, you can resume your normal activities.
Disadvantages of Laser Treatment:
- Considered Cosmetic – Therefore, most insurance companies won’t cover the costs.
- Higher Priced – The treatment costs more than other treatments; however, in the long run, it will save you from continually spending money on creams or other medications.
Because fungus remains present in our daily environment, re-infection is always possible. But following proper foot care techniques — such as wearing socks that absorb sweat, using anti-fungal spray, and never sharing footwear, just to name a few — will reduce the chances of a reoccurrence.
You don’t have to experience continued embarrassment because of your toenails anymore. If you’re suffering with toenail fungus and nothing you’ve tried has helped, contact us today. We provide the highest quality treatments when it comes to personalized, comprehensive foot care.