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When To See a Doctor About Toenail Fungus

Dr. Eman Elmi
June 4, 2023
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When should you see a doctor for toenail fungus? Most toenail fungus infections can be treated from home, however, these infections can often worsen and spread. With basic treatment and the aid of a doctor, almost every fungal infection is easily treatable. Let’s take a closer look at how to spot toenail fungus symptoms and treatment options. 

Treating Toenail Fungus at Home

Treating toenail fungus can generally be done through home treatment. The first line of defense is over-the-counter topical antifungal creams. These are available at your local pharmacy.

If these don’t work, or they work briefly and the infection returns, there are a couple of other options you should try. 

  • Mentholated salve (like Vicks Vaporub or a generic equivalent). Some studies suggest this can help treat fungal infections. 
  • Snakeroot extract and tea tree oil can also potentially treat toenail fungus. These possess natural antifungal or antiseptic properties. 
  • Some studies also suggest soaking your toenails in Listerine or vinegar to dry out the nails.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single species of fungus that can grow and thrive in the human body. Each of these species has its own unique growth habits, strengths, weaknesses, and resistances. Treatments that may greatly affect one species may have limited to no effect on another. Others can develop resistance to treatments, further complicating the infection. In instances like these, seeing a doctor to treat a toenail fungus is the next logical step.

Toenail Fungus Symptoms

Fungal infections can affect either the finger or toenails. Toenail fungus is more common. Signs of infection will show in the nail where the fungus is growing. The toenail may thicken, be discolored, brittle, misshapen, separate from the nail bed, or smell bad.

How to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus

How to get rid of toenail fungus can be a challenging question to answer. Fungal infections are among some of the most persistent. Even as persistent as they can be, most respond to over-the-counter and home remedies. In many cases, it’s best to take preventative measures to try and avoid developing a toenail fungus at all.

When to See Your Doctor

If your nail turns brown or black, suddenly hurts, or pulls away from the nail bed, seek medical attention ASAP. These are all signs of a toenail fungus infection worsening. If there’s bleeding around the nail, additional swelling, or it impacts your ability to walk, see a doctor.

If home treatments don’t stop the spread or if the infection persists, see a doctor for more options. They can prescribe more powerful topical and oral antifungal medications, as well as scrape some of the offending fungi off. They may also recommend other solutions like laser treatment or removing the toenail.

Preventing Toenail Fungus Before It Starts

The best way to stay ahead of toenail fungus is to prevent it from developing in the first place. If you follow a few simple steps, you can reduce the risk of nail fungus becoming a problem.

  1. Fungus thrives in moist and dark environments, so keep your hands and feet clean and dry. Keeping your nails trimmed short and cutting your toenails straight across will reduce space for fungus to develop.
  1. Locker rooms and pool decks are prime locations for fungus to wait, so avoid walking barefoot on either. To reduce fungal food options further, regularly change your socks and shoes if your feet get sweaty.
  1. It can also help to have more than one pair of sneakers, so the sweaty pair can dry out before wearing them again.

Get Your Toenail Fungus Treated at Diablo Foot and Ankle

Most toenail fungus cases will clear up easily enough, but some may prove especially resistant to treatment. If your toenail fungus is stubborn and resisting home treatment, call on the medical experts at Diablo Foot and Ankle.

Diablo has friendly and professional experts knowledgeable about important podiatric topics including which home remedies for toenail fungus actually work. If you’re in the Bay Area and looking for treatment, contact Diablo Foot & Ankle for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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