Did you know that changes in your nail’s appearance could be a sign of a toenail fungus infection? Well, if you notice that your nail is crumbling, turning yellow, changing shape, or giving off a strange odor, you could be dealing with a fungal toenail. Here’s how you contract these infections, what we can do to help you get rid of fungus, and some tips for preventing re-infection in the future!
Getting Rid of Toenail Fungus
In a minute, we’ll explain how we clear up fungal toenail infections in our Massapequa podiatry practice. But first, you need to understand how your toenail contracts this infection, which we call onychomycosis in the medical world. Put simply, this infection develops beneath the surface of your nail. And, if that occurs, symptoms will start to appear. Including color, shape and smell changes in your nail. For some patients, the severity of the infection can even make the toenail crumble.
Now, once you have a fungal infection in one nail, it can spread to the other nails on the foot. This contagious infection can also spread to family and friends. But don’t worry: we can stop the spread and restore the healthy appearance of your nail by uncovering the root cause of your infection and treating it at its source.
What Causes Fungal Infections in the Nail?
Every surface you touch is actually covered in microscopic fungal organisms—you could be walking on some right now, and never even know it. Now, there’s a reason for that fact—aside from them being invisible. And that’s because most people will be entirely unaffected by these little fungi.
Unfortunately, if you have any openings or breaks in the delicate skin around your nail, the fungal particles can make their way into your body, spreading throughout your bloodstream and causing you to develop an infection.
Now, that infection could develop anywhere. So why is your toenail such a frequent target for fungus? Here’s the deal: if you walk barefoot, even in your home, you’re exposing that delicate foot to infection. And, while walking barefoot is a risk for anyone, it’s especially dangerous for patients with diabetes or other conditions that compromise immunity, since that makes you more vulnerable to infection, and more likely to experience the following symptoms.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
In its early stages, a fungal toenail infection may not cause any visible symptoms. Soon enough, however, you may notice that:
• The affected toenail thickens
• Your nail takes on a yellowish color
• The infected nail gives off an unpleasant odor
• Your nail turns brittle or begins to crumble
• Your nail shape is deformed
• There’s chalky debris beneath your nail surface
• You’re developing more frequent ingrown toenails
• The skin around your infected nail is very sensitive
Preventing Toenail Fungus
Dr. Mark Gasparini and Dr. Novneet Chhabra, our podiatrists in Nassau county, would rather help you prevent toenail fungus than have to help you clear up an infection. So here are their top tips for preventing problems.
First, always make sure to cover your feet, especially when you’re walking in public places. Next, protect your nails from bumps, falling objects, and other trauma. Finally, keep your nails strong and free from infection by following a good hygiene routine.
Need more detail? Here you go: Make washing your feet with soap and warm water part of your daily routine. Once your fee are clean, be sure to dry them completely—especially in the spots between your toes. Otherwise, you may raise your risk for athlete’s foot, a fungal skin infection.
Now, as we said before, we need you to cover your feet when you’re walking. But be careful when choosing your shoes: look for pairs that fit well and give your feet room to breathe. This will help keep your feet dry and sweat-free, again reducing your risk for athlete’s foot.
Finally, take care when trimming your toenails. Use nail scissors, never clippers, and trim your nail in a straight line, taking care not to follow the nail bed’s curve. Also, you should leave some visible white nail behind when you trim, to offer extra protection to the delicate skin of your nail bed.
And about those nail scissors? Try to have one pair of scissors for every family member, to avoid spreading a toenail fungus infection around the house. And, whether or not you share pairs, clean your scissors with warm soap and water before using them on your feet.
Treating Toenail Fungus in Nassau County
Ideally, these tips will help protect you from toenail fungus. But if you do notice symptoms of nail infection, call the office to request an appointment. Luckily, we offer a variety of effective fungal toenail treatments. But they take time to resolve the infection and restore the healthy appearance of your nail. So, for that reason, we urge you to begin your treatment process as soon as possible.
Now, what will your fungal toenail treatment involve? That’s a decision we’ll make after seeing you in the office and diagnosing your condition with physical exam, or by taking a toenail sample to determine the exact kind of fungus causing your problems.
While every patient is unique, we find that many people with toenail fungus find relief with a combination of the topical medications and Lamisil, an oral medication (generic name terbinafine) that’s formulated to clear up fungal infections in your nail and skin. In the past, there was some concern that this combination could result in elevated liver enzymes for patients; thankfully, that has proven to be a rare complication, with most patients experiencing faster relief by combining oral and topical medications.
At other times, patients may include laser treatments as part of their fungal toenail protocol. However, if you prefer not to undergo laser therapy, we can treat the infection with a combination of prescription Lamisil medication and the Tolcylen antifungal nail renewal solution, a twice daily topical treatment that helps clear up your infection at a faster pace.
Now, even with these powerful tools, it could still take six months to fully resolve your fungal infection and restore the appearance of your healthy nail. Want to be back in sandals in time for summer? Call our office today, or click here to request a fungal toenail consultation!