A fungus is an organism that lives and thrives in warm moist areas. Fungus of the toenails is a common problem that can affect people of all ages, frequently affecting the elderly, people with diabetes, circulation issues and even in children. It can begin as an infection in the skin called tinea pedis (also known as athlete’s foot). The fungus starts on the skin under the nail fold at tip of the toenail. Over time, it spreads underneath the nail and causes changes to its appearance, turning the nail thick, crumbly and discolored. This can be embarrassing issue for people but more importantly can lead to pain, ingrown nail or other health concerns.
Many people have difficulty maintaining their toenails and need assistance in caring for them. A foot and ankle specialist can diagnose the cause of toenail problems and can recommend treatments.
Why did I get a fungal nail infection? It is hard to know where or how you got a fungal nail infection but it has been suggested there is a genetic susceptibility in some individuals. A warm, wet place, like inside a shoe, is a good place for a fungus can grow around your toenails. If you walk barefoot in locker rooms or other communal areas, you can pick up a fungus from there.
Treatments Treatment should be aimed at prevention by reducing the chances of infection or re-infection such as by practicing good foot hygiene and keeping your shoes clean. We dispense high quality medical grade products only available to medical professionals for your convenience. We recommend this combination approach:
Oral medication may be recommended to target the fungus from inside your body if the condition is severe enough and there are no contraindications to using it (ex. liver disease or certain medications). This medicine should be monitored by your doctor on a monthly basis until the nail is free of fungus. This may take up to one year since this is how long it takes for the nail to grow out completely.
Even with a high success rate of treatment, recurrence is possible because some people are genetically susceptible to fungal infection. Having a good foot care routine can prevent it from worsening.
Palliative care In cases where patients are considered “at-risk” and suffer from painful, thick, diseased toenails, Dr. Tea can provide palliative care (relief of symptoms) by using sterilized instruments to keep the nails at a comfortable length and thickness. Generally, people with risk factors such as neuropathy, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or are on a blood thinner should be cared for by a podiatrist. If your health insurance does not pay for palliative care, we offer a very affordable option because we believe everyone deserves great foot health.
KeryFlex, A Toenail Restoration System If you are looking for ways to make the nail look visibly better, ask your doctor about KeryFlex, a cosmetic treatment for hiding embarrassing toenails.
For Great Foot Health:
- Practice healthy feet hygiene by keeping the feet clean, dry and aired out often.
- Avoid barefoot walking in public showers, locker rooms or other public areas. Use sandals instead, spraying them with antifungal shoe spray often.
- If getting pedicures, make sure instruments are sterilized (autoclaved) to prevent spread of infections.