Table of Contents
What is Toenail Fungus?
What Are The Causes of Toenail Fungus?
There are multiple types of fungus that may cause an infection of the toenails. Toenail fungus is most commonly caused by a type of mold known as dermatophytes. Often, toenail fungus begins with an infection of the foot (athlete’s foot) which then spreads to the toenails. Fungi tend to proliferate in warm, moist, dark areas, and infections can be incurred by walking barefoot in a public space such as a shower, locker room, or swimming pool area.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
A fungal infection is often marked by thickening or changes in the shape or texture of the toenail. The nail may become brittle or crumbly, or develop ridges or bumps which were not there before. Discoloration is another common symptom, with infected toenails often appearing yellowish or whitish in color, or developing dark spots from the accumulation of debris underneath the nail. Foot odor can also sometimes be caused by a fungal infection.
What Are The Risk Factors of Toenail Fungus?
While toenail fungus can affect people at any age, it is most likely in older adults. You are more likely to get a fungal infection if you have reduced circulation due to diabetes or an autoimmune condition. Your risk is also heightened if your feet sweat a lot, or if you often get athlete’s foot. Sores or wounds on the feet may make you more prone to developing a severe fungal infection
How is a Toenail Fungus Diagnosed?
A podiatrist can generally identify the presence of a fungal infection through a physical examination of the toenails. In some cases, they may take clippings of the affected nail for further examination in order to determine the precise type of infection in order to help decide the best course of treatment.
What Are Possible Treatments For a Toenail Fungus?
Medications For Toenail Fungus
- Oral antifungal drugs: Your Doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal drug. Studies show the most effective oral treatments are found using terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox). These drugs help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected part. You typically take this type of drug for 6 to 12 weeks. Results take over 6 months until the nail grows back completely.
Treatment success rates with these drugs appear to be lower in adults over age 65. Treatment success seems to improve when you combine oral and topical antifungal therapies.
- Medicated nail polish: Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal nail polish called ciclopirox (Penlac). You paint it on your infected nails and surrounding skin once a day. After 7 days, you wipe the piled-on layers clean with alcohol and begin fresh applications. You may need to use this type of nail polish daily for a year.
- Medicated nail cream: Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream, which is rubbed into your infected nails after soaking. These creams may work better if you thin the nails first to allow the medication to get through the hard nail surface to the underlying fungus. To thin nails, apply an over the counter (nonprescription) lotion containing urea. Alternatively, your doctor may thin the
surface of the nail (debride) with a file or other tool.
- Medicated foot baths: One of the latest and most effective treatments is the use of a medicated foot bath – that is, soaking your foot in medicated water each night. The bath saturates the nail, making certain the medication gets to all locations around and below the nail. Prior to starting the medication, your Doctor will take a culture to identify the exact organism causing the infection so it can be
treated most effectively
Lunula Laser Treatment
At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, we understand that many of our patientscome through our doors experiencing discomfort due to toenail fungus. We are dedicated to providing our patients with the industry’s leading and highest quality treatment options: in this case, the Lunula Laser. The Erchonia Lunula laser device is a Low-Level Laser Light that is specifically designed for treating toenail fungus. To find out more about this treatment, please visit this page.
Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Toenail Fungus?
What Are The Risks If Toenail Fungus Is Left Untreated?
Are There Other Related Toenail Conditions To Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is of greater concern if you have diabetes, poor circulation, or another condition which inhibits your body’s ability to fight infection.
Key Takeaways About a Toenail Fungus (Top 3-5 points to remember from everything)
Your toenails can become infected by multiple types of fungus, the most common being dermatophytes. While toenail fungus can affect people of any age, older people and people with poor circulation to the lower extremities are more prone to infections. Proper foot hygiene is crucial to preventing toenail fungus, as is being aware of which public spaces are most likely to breed fungus and bacteria. Toenail fungus is not usually dangerous but can be difficult to treat.
The expert podiatrists at Weil Foot & Ankle Institute can help treat this issue using acombination of oral medication, medicated topical solutions, and Lunula Laser treatments.
if you have toenail fungus which has not responded to over the counter treatment, Weil Foot & Ankle Institute is here to help. Contact our office to schedule your next appointment today. We look forward to working with you to get you back to feeling your best.
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By: Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, Published: May 20th, 2022
Review By: Lowell Weil Jr., DPM – Jan 19th, 2023