How Is Toenail Fungus Treated
Toenail fungus is notoriously tricky to treat. You may need to treat the condition for several months to get rid of the fungus. Still, toenail fungus often comes back.
A dermatologist or podiatrist can explain your treatment options. If you have a mild case that doesnt bother you, your provider may recommend no treatment.
Toenail fungus treatment options include:
- Oral antifungal medication: You take prescribed medication, such terbinafine , itraconazole and fluconazole , to treat the fungi. You will need to take this medication every day for several months . Your provider may use blood tests to check for potential medication side effects. These medications can affect the liver and interact with other medications, so oral antifungals are not for everyone.
- Topical medication: You regularly apply a medication right on the nail. The medication treats the fungi over time. Topical medications are most effective when paired with oral medications.
- Laser treatments: Your provider directs a high-tech laser beam and special lights at the toenail to treat the fungus. Lasers are FDA approved for temporary increase of clear nail in nail fungus but is not a cure. Cure rates for laser treatment are lower than oral and topical mediations so they are not typically used as first line treatments for nail fungus.
Foot Fungus: Causes And Risk Factors
A foot fungus is a fungal infection of the skin, better known as athletes foot, says Sundling. The fungus enters through cracks in the skin. Its known as athletes foot because athletes or anyone who is more active and sweats a lot is more at risk. Kids are also more at risk, because they dont tend to wear different shoes, and changing your shoes is one way to avoid foot fungus.
Foot fungus is very common. It does not mean that someone is dirty or didnt bathe, and if you have a compromised immune system, you may be more susceptible, says Sundling.
Will A Podiatrist Treat Toenail Fungus
Fungal infections in the toenail are relatively common, causing foul smells and unsightly appearances around the nail plate. If you recognize the symptoms of toenail fungus, you must meet with the right doctor, a podiatrist, for proper treatment.
Podiatrists will treat toenail fungus by using topical creams, removing part of the nail, and or using more modern methods like laser therapy to eliminate the infection. At Arizona Foot Doctors, our podiatrists conduct a thorough evaluation of your nail before starting treatment to better understand the infections origin, possible underlying conditions, and to create a treatment approach that best fits your needs and lifestyle.
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How To Prepare To See Your Doctor
- List any symptoms, even ones that you feel are not likely related to your nail condition. This can affect your doctors treatment choices.
- List any medications that you are currently taking. Some nail fungus treatments may have interactions with other drugs. List any allergies or other personal information that may be relevant.
- Inform the doctor of any other health problems that you have. Conditions like cancer, diabetes and psoriasis can make you more vulnerable to infection or could make certain treatment options not good for you.
Are There Different Types Of Toenail Fungus
Yeast infection: The yeast Candida albicans can cause toenail infection. This one is relatively rare as it mostly occurs in children with a genetic disorder of the immune system in which an extensive Candida infection affects the scalp, mouth, torso, and nails.
White islands: An extremely common infection , this is a superficial toenail fungus that can spread to the nail bed in which cloudy white islands are developed on the nail.
Distal toenail infection: The most common cause for toenail infection is when the tip of the nail lifts from the nail bed, allowing fungus to enter the tissue. This can be caused simply by wearing shoes that are too tight and is called distal subungual onychomycosis.
Proximal toenail infection: Often seen in people with conditions that affect the immune system, sometimes the fungus can enter the nail bed from the cuticle area.
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Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi live on keratin, the protein found in your nails. They thrive in moist, dark environments and are incredibly contagious. You can develop fungal nails due to:
- Having a nail injury
- Sharing socks or shoes with an infected person
- Walking barefoot on a contaminated surface
Not everyone who comes into contact with dermatophytes develops toenail fungus sometimes your immune system fights off the invaders. Youre more likely to develop toenail fungus if your immune system is weakened, possibly due to diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions.
What Are The Likely Complications Of An Ingrown Toenail Surgery
Complications from an ingrown toenail surgery are very rare, but they can take place. Such complications include a wound that heals slowly, infection after the surgery, recurrence of the problem, and prolonged tenderness.If you ignore the proper wound care as directed by your doctor then you are at risk of having complications with your wound. The good thing is that these complications can easily be managed. Prescribed antibiotics can deal with the infections.
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Does Nail Fungus Require A Doctors Care
Nail fungus is a relatively common problem that may occur at any age. According to studies, older adults have a higher risk of developing nail fungus due to the natural brittleness of the nails that accompanies aging. While the initial symptoms of nail fungus may not seem concerning, a fungal condition that is not resolved with home remedies should be treated by a doctor to prevent permanent damage to the nail and nail bed.
Structure Of The Nail
Nails are made from a protein called keratin. This is the same protein that makes up skin and hair. Nails grow from cells that multiply within the base of the nail, then layer on top of each other and harden. This is called keratinisation.The strength, thickness and growth rate of nails are characteristics that we inherit from our parents. The structures of the nail include:
- Nail matrix where nail growth occurs, tucked under the skin behind the nail
- Nail plate the visible part of the nail
- Nail bed the nail plate sits on top of the nail bed. The nail plate looks pink because of the blood-rich capillaries in the nail bed
- Lunula the crescent-moon shape that you can sometimes see at the base of the nail plate
- Nail folds the slender skin grooves that hold the nail plate in place
- Cuticle the flap of thin tissue over the base of the nail plate.
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When Is It Time To Visit A Foot And Ankle Doctor For Toenail Fungus
A harmless toenail fungus can be more dangerous than you think. When you feel like youre handling it and want to take care of it yourself, its a tough pill to swallow. It is possible that your toenail fungus may be out of your control. However, especially with ailments related to your feet, you cant be too overcautious. Get your symptoms checked out so you can rule out something more serious.
At the end of the day, toenail fungus can be more serious than poor hygiene. In fact, toenail fungus can often come from the things you dont seem to realize.
This article will help you recognize when its time to get to the foot and ankle doctor to treat your toenail fungus.
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Fungal Nail Infection Causes
A fungal nail infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungi. These fungi fall into three categories:
These cause most cases of toenail fungus infections and also cause athletes foot, which can spread from person to person.
Moulds are usually found in soil and these typically do not spread from one person to another. It is uncommon for you to catch a nail infection this way.
Yeasts are normally found on the body and can cause a nail infection if they grow out of control.
Fungal nail infections are usually triggered when the conditions are right for the fungi to grow. This includes when:
- Your feet or hands are warm, moist and in dark conditions for a period of time, for example if you wear socks, shoes or gloves
- Your feet and hands arent kept clean and dry
- Nails are broken or damaged
- You have a weakened immune system or are suffering from certain other illnesses, like diabetes
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What Causes Toenail Fungus
It can happen to anyone at any age but is much more common in older adults. As a person ages, their nails become ever more brittle and dry, which leads to cracks in the nails that bacteria and detritus can enter through.
Toenail fungus is also caused by warm, wet environments. If you walk around with wet shoes or go without footwear when navigating public bathrooms or showers, this can lead to foot fungus issues.
How Are Fungal Nail Infections Treated
Treatment isnt always necessarydepending on the severity of your conditionbut it is recommended simply because it might be contagious. Not only can you spread the condition to someone else, but depending on the type of fungus, can also spread to infect your other toes.
For mild cases of toenail fungus, your doctor will likely start with conservative treatments. These may include prescription anti-fungal oral medications or topical solutions. For patients who exhibit severe symptomsor for those who do not respond to medicationthe doctor may recommend nail avulsion surgery. During this procedure, the nail plate is removed and chemical treatments are introduced to treat the infection.Contact your podiatrist for more information or to schedule a consultation.
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Know It Need Not Be Your Only Option
As already mentioned, nail removal is usually a last resort, after other methods have failed to be effective. As such, your doctor is not likely to recommend or even mention nail removal before trying oral and topical medications, ointments, and various other treatments.
Depending on the precise issue, many people have found great success and healing using all kinds of other treatments. Because nail fungus is a very common reason for toenail removal, look at thesedifferentoptions for how to safely and effectively treat toenail fungus.
However, the more severe the case and the longer it has gone without treatment, the more likely your doctor will insist on nail removal as the only possible option.
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What Is The Outlook For Someone With Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus is common, its usually not harmful. Symptoms mostly affect the look of your toenail.
Toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes or other areas of your body. When getting dressed, put your socks on first to reduce the chance of spread.
Treating toenail fungus takes a long time, and it doesnt always work. Even then, toenail fungus often returns. Discuss the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus with your provider to determine whats best for you.
Practicing good hygiene and foot care reduces the chance toenail fungus will come back. If you have diabetes, getting regular foot exams may help you address foot problems before they get serious.
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How Does A Nail Fungus Start
Nail fungus infection is a common dermatological disorder that begins either under the nail or in the nail itself. It is mostly caused by a dermatophyte fungus, though there are cases that it is caused by Candida yeast as well. Also called onychomycosis, the condition affects both fingernails and toenails, though it is more prevalent in toenails. Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, which perhaps describe a lot of footwear. Nail fungus infection can also start with the same dermatophyte fungus that causes athletes foot, the Trichophyton. So when a person has athletes foot, its also likely that the fungal infection would spread to the nails.
Fungal infection gives nails an abnormal appearance. The first sign of it may be a discolored dot on the nail or the skin under the nail. There may be white or yellow streaks on the nail, a crumbling corner or tip of the nail, flaking on the nails surface, yellow spots at the bottom of the nail, and scaling under the nail. The infected nail may also be thickened or brittle, and it may detach from the nail bed. In some cases, there may also be odor coming from the infected nail.
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Bacterial Infection Of The Nail
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is a common cause of bacterial infection of the nail. Typically, the infection first takes hold in the fold of skin at the base of the nail . Without treatment, the infection can worsen, leading to inflammation and pus. It is often associated with candida infection, particularly when it becomes chronic.Activities that predispose a person to a bacterial nail infection include:
- Having constantly wet hands
- Overzealous attention to the cuticles
- Severe nail biting, which can expose underlying tissues to infection
- Eczema around the fingernails.
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Your Options For Treating Toenail Fungus
If you think you may have toenail fungus, you should see a podiatrist or dermatologist, who will send a specimen or a piece of your nail to a lab. Different types of fungus are treated slightly differently, so its important to know which type you have, says Sundling.
Also, sometimes the root of the problem is not a fungus at all, but rather another condition, or some kind of trauma to the nail bed for instance, if you dropped something on your toe. There is no treatment for toenail trauma, but removing the nail may be an option if the nail is painful.
If you do have a toenail fungus, your doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
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What Is A Fungal Nail Infection
A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin under the nail, called the nail bed. Fungi can attack your nails through small cuts in the skin around your nail or through the opening between your nail and nail bed.
If you are healthy, a fungal nail infection probably wont cause serious problems. But it may look bad, hurt, or damage your nail or nail bed.
A fungal nail infection could lead to more serious problems if you have diabetes or a weak immune system. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat a nail infection if you have one of these problems.
With fungal nail infections, the main cause is typically
Certain behaviors and preexisting conditions that can affect your risk of nail fungus include:
- old age
There are many overlaps between nail fungus and nail cancer. Since its easy to mistake cancer of the nail for a fungal infection, you should see a doctor immediately to get a definitive diagnosis.
See a doctor immediately if you suspect you have toenail fungus or subungual melanoma.
Since the prognosis of subungual melanoma gets worse the longer it takes to diagnose, its better to be safe and get any possible symptoms checked out and cleared as soon as they appear.
If you wait too long for diagnosis and treatment, theres a risk of the cancer spreading throughout the bodys organs and lymph nodes.
How To Prevent Both Foot And Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus and foot fungus arent the same condition, the following tips can help you prevent both, says Sundling:
- Practice good hygiene, such as keeping your feet clean.
- Alternate your shoes during the week. Your feet sweat all day long. Alternating your shoes allows them to dry out, so the fungus cant survive.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks that help dry out shoes and kill fungus. You can find these at running stores and athletic stores. If your socks are exceptionally sweaty, changing them more than once per day can help.
- Wear shoes in public places like locker rooms, pools, and gyms to limit exposure to fungus.
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