Toenail fungus is anything but fun. This stubborn condition, also known as onychomycosis, can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails. Fungal infections of the skin and nail of the feet is the most comon infection known to man. It can also lead to other serious infections that can spread beyond your feet if you have a compromised immune system due to medication, diabetes or other factors.
Toenail fungus is easy to spot on my patients when they come to my office. They have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Thickened toenails
- Toenails that are brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Yellow or white discoloration
- Toenails that are distorted in shape
- Dull toenails, with no luster or shine
Nail fungus is not pretty! Infected nails also may separate from the nail bed. This is called onycholysis. Patients may have pain in their toes and notice a slightly foul odor.
Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi thrive in warm, moist places, like swimming pools or showers. They can enter your skin through tiny invisible cuts or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed.
The sooner you treat this condition, the better. Toenail fungus can be difficult to treat. You can try an over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and/or ointments, but you should see a podiatrist to follow up and ensure that it is being treated properly.
If over-the-counter antifungals are not working, you may need an oral antifungal medication. Despite outdated fears that overhyped their risks, for most people the most effective oral medication has a safety profile similar to tylenol. Its also generic, so its affordable. Other treatment options include antifungal lacquer or surgery, in extreme cases.
Laser nail therapy is the newest therapy. I have not seen good evidence that this is a treatment that is here to stay. Unfortunately, when you get past the hype, it is unproven, and very costly. Most doctors who offer this treatment charge hundreds of dollars, and if it works, there is no guarantee it wont recur.
If you suspect you are suffering from toenail fungus, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday right away for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in his Bradenton Podiatry office or Sarasota Podiatry office.