Have you looked at your toenails lately? Are they yellowish or white, brittle or thick? You may just think that your toes are ugly and be too embarrassed to wear sandals. Actually, you may be suffering from a toenail fungus. A toenail fungus is an infection. It is easy to acquire, often coming in through cuts in your skin or cracks in your nail. As the fungus builds up under the nail, it can even loosen or separate the nail from the bed. Toenail fungus loves to grow in a warm, moist environment, so if you spend a lot of time in the water, or you have injured a toenail, you are more likely to get it. Anyone can get it, although statistics show that older men are the most likely to get it. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of toenail fungus. People who have a weak immune system, diabetes, or who smoke have an increased risk, as well as those who are prone to athlete’s foot or fungal nails.
If you have toenail fungus, treatment depends on what type of fungus you have and the severity of the infection. Your doctor may try different treatments or a combination of treatments. Many people are opting for laser treatments. Recently approved by the FDA, laser treatments are safe and effective. Laser beams directed at your toenail eliminate the infection but do not affect the healthy areas of your toe and toenail. It is safe, easy, involves little or no recover time and doesn’t hurt.
Available treatments also include oral antifungals. These treatments usually take about three months to effectively eliminate the fungus. There are also topical treatments for fungal nails. In certain severe cases, surgical treatment may be required involving removal of the nail.
Of course, the best way to deal with fungal toenail infections is to prevent them. Start with good hygiene. Wash your feet with soap and water and dry them completely. Don’t forget to dry around and between the toes. Inspect your feet and toes for early signs of infection. Infections spread, so remember to wear flip-flops or shower shoes in public areas such as locker rooms, showers and public pools. Change your shoes and socks regularly, especially if they become damp. Wear shoes that fit properly and that allow your feet to breathe. When caring for your toenails, disinfect all pedicure tools and don’t share them with others. Clip the nails so that they are short and straight across. Finally, if you think your toes might be infected, don’t apply nail polish. If you want to get a professional pedicure, look for a salon that is licensed and clean. Make sure they always sterilize their instruments.
With are so many serious health conditions to be concerned about, toenail fungus may seem like a minor worry. If the symptoms are mild, people may choose to ignore it, however without treatment, the infection can spread to your skin, or even fingernails. Toenail fungus is a stubborn condition. In some cases it can be persistent and difficult to treat,. At least once a month, take a good, close look at your feet (use a mirror if necessary.) Pay particular attention to your toenails and the nail beds. If you notice any problems, pain, or changes in the thickness or color of a toenail, you may have a fungus. Keep in mind that there are other conditions that can look like a toenail fungus, so you should talk to your doctor. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, it is best to seek treatment promptly.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. We are here to help.