Toenails, and the nail bed can easily become infected by foot fungus, a condition known as Onychomycosis. Once a nail is infected by a dermatophyte, it may become discoloured, thick and brittle, making them hard to care for and uncomfortable when wearing certain shoes. Since fungal nails also compromise the skin that lies directly under the nail plate, one may develop a bacterial infection following a fungal infection.
In many cases, the fungus that affects the toenails spreads to the areas between and around the toes creating a condition known as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).
Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a specific group of fungi called “dermatophytes”, which rely on our skin and nail’s keratin cells to survive. Dermatophytes are microscopic organisms that thrive in warm and moist environments such as swimming pools, locker rooms and showers. Once they come in contact with your nails, they easily migrate their way under the nail plate, and start the infection.
You may have fungal nails if your nails are:
- Thickened, discoloured and tender
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged edged
- Dull, with no shine
- Foul smelling
- Separating from the nail bed
There are several nail fungus treatments available, such as over-the-counter anti-fungal nail tinctures. However, these may only help in mild cases, and the majority of cases don’t respond well. Your Foot Specialists may suggest a combination of prescription drugs and other approaches to combat your fungal infection.
Most people who have fungal nails resolve them by:
- Nail care: Your Chiropodist will likely reduce the thickness of the affected nails, and remove fungal debris. This will improve the penetration of any prescribed topical medication.
- Oral medication: Oral antifungals can effectively cure the infection, however, frequent blood tests will need to be taken to ensure your liver can handle the drugs.
- Medicated nail polish: You may be prescribed an antifungal nail lacquer to use daily until resolved.
- Medicated nail cream: You may be prescribed an antifungal cream to be applied daily until resolved.
If conservative treatments have failed, your Foot Specialist may recommend:
- Laser therapy: Pulsed diode laser treatments generate intense light and heat energy which kill the fungal cells at the site of infection.
- Nail removal: In severe and painful cases, your Chiropodist may surgically remove the nail plate, or may prescribe a topical medication to gently dissolve the nail plate. Following this, a topical anti-fungal will be applied to encourage the regrowth of a healthy and fungal free nail.
Contact us today to see how we can cure your fungal nail infection.