The fungus that grows underneath the toenails can be extremely unsightly. That is not the only problem, however, with fungal nail infections. They can be hazardous to your health and they can recur if the treatment the fungal nail requires is not adhered to. Here are some symptoms, causes, and treatment options for fungal nails:
There are several symptoms that can be a clear indicator that you have a fungal nail infection. The first of these is the thickening of the toenails. When you notice that your toenails have rapidly begun to become thicker, you may have a fungal nail infection. With this thickening, you might also notice striations that run the length of the nail.
Another symptom that you might notice is the white-ish to yellow-brown discoloration of the toenails and nail beds. The color is much like that of the fingernails of a heavy smoker but can be much darker.
As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to not only thicken and discolor but also to crumble at the edge. There may also be debris building up under the nail, which causes the dark color.
Along with all these symptoms, nails may also be distorted in shape and have a foul odor.
Fungal nail infections are caused by various fungal organisms. The most common cause is a type of fungus called a dermatophyte. Yeast and molds can also cause nail infections. Fungal nail infection can develop in people at any age but is more common in older adults. As the nail ages, it can become brittle and dry. The resulting cracks in the nails allow fungi to enter. Other factors, such as reduced blood circulation to the feet and a weakened immune system, may also play a role. Toenail fungal infection can start from athlete’s foot, and it can spread from one nail to another. But it is uncommon to get an infection from someone else.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus. They include:
A severe case of nail fungus can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails and could lead to other serious infections that spread beyond your feet if you have a suppressed immune system due to medication, diabetes, or other conditions.
The first line of treatment is almost always prevention. The following habits can help prevent nail fungus or reinfections and athlete’s foot, which can lead to nail fungus:
If prevention is not enough, treatment of fungal nails may be necessary. Fungal nail infections can be difficult to treat and may include self-care strategies and over-the-counter products.
However, if these haven’t worked, you may be prescribed oral or topical antifungal therapies.
Advance treatment measures do exist as well. Laser treatment has been around for some time, though recent literature suggests that these treatment measures actually aren’t effective.
Newer technologies, such as nail perforation treatment, are now showing promising efficacy in the clinical setting.
Another form of treatment we use here at Diablo Foot and Ankle is Clearanail technology. Clearanail is a nail drill that utilizes leading-edge technology to safely and effectively treat fungal nail. The Clearanail treatment safely drills barely visible micro holes through the nail, to allow anti-fungal medication to reach the infection.
Some benefits of clearanail can include:
The newest form of fungal nail treatment we use is GenesisPlus. GenesisPlus is a laser system that uses a pulsed laser to pass through the damaged and thickened nail and directly target the fungi living underneath. The laser light is absorbed by the fungi, which causes it to heat, and this heat kills the fungal organism. Read more about the GenesisPlus Toenail Fungal Laser Treatment here.
Benefits of the GenesisPlus laser include:
If you have exhausted self-treat methods and over-the-counter fungal treatments for nails, and all have been unsuccessful, a trip to your family doctor or general practitioner may be warranted. You may be referred immediately to either a dermatologist or a podiatrist. Following evaluation by your doctor, your best plan for treatment will be discussed. As always, consult your physician before treating.
Get rid of fungal nails once and for all with the help of Diablo Foot and Ankle. Our specialists have plenty of experience dealing with fungal foot issues, and have access to novel nail perforation treatment modalities. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today.