Fungal toenails are fairly common, but still can be a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment for many individuals. Learn more about this condition and what we can do to help here at Foot Specialists of Long Island. Even better, find out the steps you can take to prevent this fungal infection from happening in the first place!
Fungal Infection in Toenails
Fungal toenails are caused by yeasts, molds, and fungi known as dermatophytes. These are microscopic organisms that can thrive in the dark and do not need sunlight to survive. They are typically found in warm, damp environments and invade the skin through tiny cuts and abrasions. The fungus attaches itself to unprotected feet and will stick around if the conditions are right. Given that your feet are already warm, and the fungus is fine living in a dark sock and shoe, the only thing still needed is moisture.
The primary symptoms of fungal toenails are visually observable. You will know you have this condition—also known as onychomycosis—when your nails are brittle, crumbly, thickened, discolored and dull. The lack of shine and dark color from debris building up under an affected nail are indications of an infection, but you should also be aware of the potential for pain, the toenail separating from the nailbed, and even a slightly foul odor.
Fungal Toenail Treatment and Prevention Tips
There are over-the-counter products that might help with this condition. Often, these are more effective for mild cases. If you have tried these treatments without having success, you need professional help. Should this be the case, techniques we might employ include prescription medications (either oral or topical), nail removal, or laser therapy.
Laser therapy is a highly-effective, safe procedure that is FDA-approved for treating fungal toenails. Our process uses focused wavelengths of light (the lasers) to specifically target the offensive fungus. After treatment, you simply walk out the front door and continue with your normal activities – no down time!
We can certainly treat your fungal toenail condition for you, but the best course of action is to simply prevent them from developing in the first place. Some habits and tips to help keep your toenails fungal-free include:
- Protect your feet in public. Common sources of the fungi that lead to infection include pool decks, locker rooms, and shower areas. When visiting any such places, wear shower shoes or sandals to protect your feet. Also, make sure you are wearing your own and not borrowing someone else’s.
- Wash your feet every day. Use mild soap and warm water to wash off any potential contaminants. Afterwards, dry them thoroughly, being carefully to ensure that you include the areas between the toes (where fungus and bacteria can start to grow).
- Wear moisture-wicking socks. Certain fabrics are better at wicking away moisture than others. A key component to preventing fungal toenails is to keep your feet dry, so pick up socks that are made from materials like wool, polypropylene, and nylon.
- Wear shoes constructed from breathable materials. Choose open-toed shoes and sandals (not flip-flops, though) as often as possible. Given that New York autumns and winters are hardly the place for footwear like that, buy closed shoes that are made out of breathable materials for our colder seasons. As long as you are not diabetic, walk around barefoot at home to further decrease your risk for a fungal infection.
- Alternate your shoes. Have two pairs of shoes that you wear regularly on alternating days. This will enable each pair to have 24 hours and dry out thoroughly between uses.
- Change out of damp socks as soon as possible. If you are working out or suffer from hyperhidrosis (a condition that causes excessive sweating), make sure you have a dry set of socks to change into once your others have become wet.
Professional Toenail Care at Foot Specialists of Long Island
When it comes to care for fungal toenails, make Foot Specialists of Long Island your top choice. Our team cares about your health and is ready to help you, so let our knowledgeable foot specialists provide the effective treatment you need. Call us at (516) 804-9038 or request your appointment with us online today!