Fungal infections of the nail, or onychomycosis, are often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing any pain. The disease is characterized by a progressive change in a toenail’s quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing. In reality, the condition is an infection underneath the surface of the nail that may be caused by fungi, yeasts, or molds. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in color and foul smelling. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. If ignored, the infection can spread and possibly impair one’s ability to work or even walk. This happens because the resulting thicker nails are difficult to trim and make walking painful when wearing shoes. Onychomycosis can also be accompanied by a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.
Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where people are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, for example. Injury to the nail bed may make it more susceptible to all types of infections, including fungal infections. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune deficiency, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration.
Treatment of Fungal Nails:
Treatment may vary, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. A daily routine of cleansing over a period of many months may temporarily suppress mild infections. White markings that appear on the surface of the nail can be filed off, followed by the application of a liquid antifungal agent. However, even the best over-the-counter treatments may not prevent a fungal infection from coming back.
A podiatric physician can detect a fungal infection early, culture the nail, determine the cause, and form a suitable treatment plan, which may include prescribing topical or oral medication, and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of an infected nail. Oral antifungal medication is an option to treat fungus toenail infection. There are a few antifungal medications that can be prescribed for fungus toenail infection. The Podiatrist will perform an evaluation and discuss if an oral antifungal medication should be part of the treatment plan as many factors come into play about taking an oral antifungal medication such as age, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart conditions, liver pathology, and kidney pathology. Podiatrists may also prescribe a topical treatment for onychomycosis, which can be an effective treatment modality for fungal nails.
In some cases, surgical treatment may be required. Temporary removal of the infected nail can be performed to permit direct application of a topical antifungal. Permanent removal of a chronically painful nail, which has not responded to any other treatment, permits the fungal infection to be cured and prevents the return of a deformed nail.
Trying to solve the infection without the qualified help of a podiatric physician can lead to more problems. With new technical advanced in combination with simple preventive measures, the treatment of this lightly regarded health problem can often be successful.
For evaluation, confirming diagnosis, and treatment options, make an appointment with Dr. Novabilski