Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, forms when fungal infections occur underneath the surface of the nail, causing color change, pain, and even unpleasant odor. Dermatophytes, the fungi that also causes athlete’s foot, cause the majority of fungal toenail infections.
Most individuals become concerned with their toenail fungus because they feel embarrassed by the infected nail’s appearance.
However, fungal toenails are much more serious than that. Like most infections, if not treated it may continue to worsen and eventually make it difficult to walk.
A speedy diagnosis is key in curing these infections. Find the Advanced Foot and Ankle podiatry clinic nearest you you and schedule an appointment for assessment and diagnosis.
Fungal infections have many potential causes. Here are some top ways that toenail fungus is caused and spread:
- Walking barefoot in warm damp populated areas
- Breaks and damage to your nail bed
- Suffering from chronic diseases (immune-deficiency, diabetes, Rheumatoid, )
- Having past problems with athlete’s foot (the same fungus can cause both issues)
- Pedicures/nail work with infected/un-sanitized tools
- Overgrowth of yeast
- Footwear that cramps the toes
- Mold growth
Symptoms & Identification
It’s important to get professional help when identifying or diagnosing foot problems, but in general, toenail fungal infections are often characterized by the following symptoms:
- Discolored, brittle nails
- Nails become tender and cause pain
- Unpleasant odor
- White marks and yellow streaks across/throughout the nail
- Nails can become very hard or very weak
- Debris build up under the nail
- Chalky nail surface
Treatment & Care
There are many ways to treat and prevent fungal toenails. There are two main types of treatment for infected nails – conservative (non-surgical) and surgical. Here are some common treatment and care methods:
Toenail fungal infections are often handled through oral or topical medications. Our podiatrists start with conservative options first, and only suggest surgery when absolutely necessary.
Some of the non-surgical treatments include:
- Oral antifungal drugs
- Liquid antifungals
- Daily cleaning
- Medicated nail cream
- Medicated nail polish
One easy-to-use over-the-counter medication our physicians subscribe is Tolcylen. Tolcylen is the first comprehensive anti fungal, cosmetic, and nail renewal treatment that can prevent and cure fungal infections while revitalizing nails with jojoba oil and vitamin E.
Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications can’t always prevent a fungal infection from showing up again. With help from a podiatrist, you can identify the infection in its early stages, learn the cause, and follow a treatment plan that will have a longer-lasting effect.
In some cases, conservative treatments are simply not an option. However, these more aggressive fungal infections can be treated surgically:
- Temporary removal of infected nail to directly apply antifungal medication
- Permanent removal of a nail that is continuously causing pain and has not taken to any treatments
- Toenail fungus laser treatment, which penetrates the nail to directly reach the fungus
If you think you’re facing a toenail fungal infection you should consult your podiatrist right away. Advanced Foot and Ankle podiatrists can assess your symptoms and create a specific treatment plan just for you.
For more information about toenail, toe, and foot fungus and ailments, or to have an assessment at one of our conveniently located Middle Tennessee locations, contact us today to schedule an appointment.