How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Nail Fungus
To find out if a patient has nail fungus, a dermatologist examines your nails and nearby skin. Its important to check the skin because the fungus can spread. You may already have a skin infection caused by fungus like athletes foot.
To get rid of the infection, you will need to treat all infected areas.
Before giving you the diagnosis, your dermatologist may also take some samples. Collecting a bit of debris from beneath a nail, trimming off part your nail, or scraping off a bit of skin can be very helpful. In a lab, these samples can be examined under a microscope to find out whats causing the problem.
Are you hiding an infected nail with nail polish?
Be sure to ask your dermatologist if you can wear nail polish while treating nail fungus.
What Other Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Fungal Nails
Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:
Why Choose A Specialist
Direct Training Specialists receive direct training in regard to particular problems. Seeking treatment from a specialist is beneficial especially in those cases that are not easily cured during the initial evaluation.
More Exposure A specialist focusing on patients of a particular subset willencounter certain conditions more often than a general practitioner. This givesthe specialist the advantage of experience and hands-on-knowledge.
Current with Technological Advances A specialist is current on new techniques and technological advances that directly relate to their area of expertise. For example, a podiatrist will likely have exposure to new laser treatments that would not be available at a general practitioner.
Recommended Reading: Is Black Mold A Fungus
Toenail Fungus Home Care
Sometimes itâs possible to treat your toenail fungus at home. You can try:
- Over the counter antifungal creams or ointments. File or cut off any white markings on your nails. Soak your nails in water and dry off before you put on the medicated cream.
- Special nail care. If you keep your nails trimmed, it can reduce the pressure and pain you feel. You can also thin your nail bed by filing it down. This can help antifungal creams get to the problem easier.
Is The Treatment Safe
Yes. Most medications for fungal infections are quite safe. Theres a misconception, even among non-dermatologist physicians, that treatments for fungal infections are not safe, when in fact, they are.
Patients are sometimes concerned particularly about how terbinafine affects their liver. This medication is actually safer for the liver than Tylenol. Most experts now say its not necessary to conduct blood tests for liver enzyme elevations on patients taking this medication.
You May Like: How Can I Get Rid Of Toe Fungus
Are Some People More Susceptible To Fungal Nail Infections
Although everyone is potentially susceptible, there are several risk factors that make a person more likely to get infected. Many factors are lifestyle-related and having an active lifestyle can often expose a person to situations where contact with fungus is more likely. There are also genetic and health factors that can increase the risk of infection for:
- People 55 years or older
- People with diminished blood circulation
- People with previous or existing injury or infection of the nail
- People with a weakened immune system
iIs nail fungus contagious?
Fungal nail infections are in fact contagious, but not in any way that should cause panic. Fungal infections commonly spread from the nail to the skin and vice versa. Many fungi called dermatophytes feed on keratin, the basic material of skin and hair, to grow and spread.
Accidental transmission from person to person is quite uncommon, unless there is constant intimate contact. The fungi that can cause nail fungus infections are very commonplace and are very difficult to avoid completely. Generally, in healthy individuals, the immune system will defend the body from infection and repel these fungi, even if they come into contact with the skin or the nail.
Surgical Or Other Procedures
- Nail removal. If your nail infection is severe or extremely painful, your doctor may suggest removing your nail. A new nail will usually grow in its place. But it will come in slowly and may take as long as a year to grow back completely. Sometimes surgery is used in combination with ciclopirox to treat the nail bed.
- Laser and light-based therapies. More study is needed, but these methods alone or with medications may help your nails improve. One study tested the effectiveness of carbon-dioxide laser therapy combined with antifungal nail cream. Most of the 24 people in the study benefited from the treatment.
Laser and light-based therapies are not available everywhere, are expensive, and often are not covered by insurance.
Also Check: Can Vinegar Kill Foot Fungus
Podiatrist Toenail Fungus Specialist
Toenail fungus is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in color, debris may collect beneath the nail plate, and white marks may appear on the nail plate. The infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. The resulting fungal nails are thicker and difficult to trim making walking painful when wearing shoes. Toe fungus removal can be performed by a podiatrist.
If your condition is mild and not disturbing you, you may not require treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, self-care steps and meds may help. Yet, regardless of whether treatment is effective, nail fungus regularly returns.
Nail fungus is called onychomycosis .
When fungus infects the zones of the skin of your feet, its called athletes foot .
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.
You May Like: Does A Dermatologist Treat Nail Fungus
Do Dermatologists Treat Hair And Nails
Absolutely we treat hair and nail fungal infections in addition to skin infections. Dermatologists treat fungal infections on the surface of the nail, embedded within the nail, or on the scalp. Depending on the location, we treat these with creams, gels, liquids, or oral medications. We also treat a variety of hair loss problems. too.
Know It May Have To Be Permanent
At this point, if he or she has not discussed this with you earlier, the doctor may recommend that you have the nail permanently prevented from growing back. This is only done in severe cases of fungus or other disorders where the problem would simply keep occurring if the nail grew back.
To do this, the doctor must destroy the nail matrix, which is the part of the toe that produces keratin, the element that toenails are made of.
The matrix can be dissolved chemically, which is the most common. This is called chemical cauterization, and involves the application of a chemical called phenol. Occasionally, some patients report their nails growing back, but generally this method is effective.
If this does not work, your doctor will perform a surgical matrixectomy. A flap of skin is surgically created at the base of the nail, where the matrix is located. After retracting the flap, the matrix is surgically removed.
Don’t Miss: How Do I Know If My Toenail Fungus Is Dying
Are Oral Medications For Nail Fungus Toxic
The newer drugs are unlikely to cause any liver problems in patients without known liver disease. Blood tests are not needed for once-weekly treatment with fluconazole however, people taking longer courses often have their liver function tested before starting the medicine and then retested during the course of treatment. It is important to notify the doctor of all side effects while on the medication. You should tell your doctor of all current medications to prevent potential serious drug interactions.
Nail Fungal Infection Treatment
Prescription medicines can treat a fungal nail infection. Oral antifungal medicines help a new nail grow. This will replace the infected nail. You may need to take antifungal medicine for 6 to 12 weeks. Some oral medicines are not safe for people who have liver problems. They are not safe for people who have a history of congestive heart failure. Tell your doctor if you have one of these conditions. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.
Apply topical treatments to the top of your nail. Topical medicines usually do not cure fungal nail infections.
In severe cases, a doctor might remove the nail completely. It can take several months to a year for the infection to go away.
You May Like: How To Clear Toenail Fungus Fast
What The Experts Say
The most common presentation of toenail fungus is a white/yellow discoloration of the nail that is thick and filled with yellow/white keratin debris. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies.” Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City.
What Does A Podiatrist Specialize In
A doctor of podiatric medicine is uniquely qualified to treat conditions of the foot and ankle. A podiatrist can further specialize in surgery, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, and biomechanics. The training to become a podiatrist includes a four-year college degree, four years of podiatry school, and a three-year residency.
Also Check: What Can I Soak My Feet In For Toenail Fungus
If You Observe Certain Nail Changes
For prompt, effective treatment of your toe nail condition , you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible, especially if you notice certain changes to your nails. These abnormalities may include toenail deformities, discoloration, or thickening. By seeing a podiatrist as soon as possible, you can reduce the risk that youll suffer permanent damage to your toenails.
If you are in need of a foot doctor in Sugar Land, TX , visit Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists or call 281-242-3338.
How Is Toenail Fungus Diagnosed
Nearly 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with toenail fungus each year. Men are up to three times more likely to develop toenail fungus than women. You are also at a higher risk for a toenail fungus infection if you smoke or have diabetes. Also, individuals with compromised immune systems may experience toenail fungus that can turn into an infection.
When feet remain moist or damp, the fungus can grow, causing discoloration and thickening of toenails. Infection can cause discomfort and pain. The spread of fungus and infection can go from toe to toe, hand, fingernails, or skin on other parts of the body.
The toenail may become warped, cracked, or loosen itself away from the nail bed. Often the nail appears yellowish and may have white spots. Your doctor will examine your feet and potentially take a small sample of skin or nail to be sent off to a laboratory for testing. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist, podiatrist, or other healthcare professional if your condition is unusual or needs special care. Other foot conditions such as psoriasis can look similar to a fungal infection. Lab reports can indicate if the problem is fungal, helping the doctor prescribe the best medication for effective treatment.
Also Check: Does Salt Water Help Toenail Fungus
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.
Discoloration Of The Nail Plates
Discoloration of the nail plates is usually the least worrisome of toenail problems.
Your nails are susceptible to discoloration from substances you come into contact with. Nail polish, dye from your shoes, and other products containing dye can stain your nails.
Drugs, including some cancer drugs, antibiotics, and those used to treat autoimmune disorders, can also cause discoloration of your nail plates.
Discoloration is usually not painful and will improve when your nail grows out or when you stop taking the medication or using the product that caused the discoloration.
There is a rare medical condition that can cause your nail plates to turn white.
Other than the discoloration, there arent usually any other symptoms associated with discolored nail beds.
Recommended Reading: What’s The Best Over The Counter Nail Fungus Treatment
When To See A Podiatrist About Nail Fungus
When to See a Podiatrist About Nail Fungus
Your local podiatrist can accurately diagnose and effectively treat an incredible array of problems that affect your feet, including nail fungus. While many people think of nail fungus as a minor inconvenience or merely a cosmetic issue, it can in fact lead to serious health problems. When left untreated by your Houston podiatrist , nail fungus can lead to permanent nail damage and infections that spread beyond your feet. While its best to visit your foot doctor sooner, rather than later, you should definitely take the time to schedule an appointment if the following factors apply to you.
Make An Antifungal Foot Soak
Soaking your feet can also be a useful technique in reducing or eliminating toenail fungus. Many common household items can be used to make a healing antifungal foot bath. Mix one or more of the following with warm water and soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes. After foot bath, rinse feet with clean water and pat dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Thieves oil
Don’t Miss: How You Get Toenail Fungus
What Are The Symptoms Of An Injured Nail
A fine red to reddish-brown vertical line under your nail may be caused by an injury with bleeding under the nail. This is known as a splinter hemorrhage. Some medicines and medical conditions can also cause reddish lines to appear on the nails, so see a board-certified dermatologist if you notice a new red line.
Minor nail injuries commonly result in small white spots. They typically disappear on their own as the nail grows out and do not require treatment. You should, however, see your dermatologist if you see many white spots and do not remember injuring your nail, or if the white spots do not grow out. This could mean you have an infection or another medical condition.
When Should I See A Dermatologist About My Nails
If allowed to progress, nail disease can be challenging to treat. Early diagnosis and proper treatment offer the best outcome. If you notice unusual or bothersome changes in your nails, see a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation and treatment, if necessary.
A board-certified dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions. To learn more about nails or to find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/nails or call toll-free 462-DERM .
Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides
American Academy of Dermatology
P.O. Box 1968, Des Plaines, Illinois 60017
AAD Public Information Center: 888.462.DERM AAD Member Resource Center: 866.503.SKIN Outside the United States: 847.240.1280
Also Check: How To Use Vicks For Toenail Fungus
Living With A Nail Fungal Infection
If you have a nail fungal infection, some things can help:
- Keep your nails cut short and file down any thick areas.
- Dont use the same nail trimmer and file on healthy nails and infected nails. If you have your nails professionally manicured, bring your own nail file and trimmer from home.
- Wear waterproof gloves for wet work . Wear 100% cotton gloves for dry work.
- Wear socks made of wicking material . This pulls moisture away from the skin. Change your socks when they are damp from sweat or if your feet get wet. Put on clean, dry socks every day. Put over-the-counter antifungal foot powder inside your socks to keep your feet dry.
- Wear shoes with good support and a wide toe area. Dont wear pointed shoes that press your toes together.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms.