Are yellow, crumbling, or thickening toenails stopping you from wearing sandals? Those unsightly nails may be a sign that you have a toenail fungus, a common condition caused by microscopic organisms.
While you may want to cover up and hide your discolored and infected toenails, you shouldn’t Gale ignore this condition. Left untreated, toenail fungus can get progressively worse, possibly spread to other parts of your body, and lead to permanent nail damage.
With years of expertise in treating toenail fungus, experienced podiatrist, Mark Forman, DPM, MBA, FAPWCA of Put Your Feet First in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers comprehensive treatment for unsightly toenail fungus.
What is toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection caused by microorganisms that grow under the surface of your nail. This condition occurs after your toenail comes in contact with fungi, including yeasts and molds. If you’re seeking treatment for nail fungus, you may hear it called by its medical name, onychomycosis.
After the infection takes hold, toenail fungus can spread to other toenails, fingernails, or any skin that comes in contact with the affected nail or its debris. In extreme cases, toenail fungus can cause discomfort and debilitating pain.
Toenail fungus affects people of all ages, though it’s more common in older adults because nails become more brittle with age. Brittle nails have more cracks, which can serve as entry points for the microorganisms. The condition occurs most often in toenails because feet provide the kind of dark and damp breeding ground that allows fungi to thrive.
You may be more likely to develop toenail fungus if you:
- Walk barefoot in hot, humid public places like swimming pools or locker rooms
- Have sweaty feet throughout the day
- Wear tight-fitting shoes that fully cover your feet for long periods
- Had recent toenail surgery or a toenail injury
- Have certain health conditions like diabetes
- Have poor circulation or a weak immune system
- Have a history of athlete’s foot
Signs and symptoms of toenail fungus
In the first stages of toenail fungus, you may notice a white spot on your nail. As the infection grows, you see more changes, and you may have any of the following symptoms:
- Thickening of the nail
- White or yellow-brown discoloration of the toenail
- Crumbly, brittle, or ragged nail texture
- Distorted toenail shape
- Debris that causes a dark color under your nail
- Foul odor
- Pain and discomfort
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends that you seek medical treatment at the first sign of changes in nail color and thickness. Delaying medical treatment of toenail fungus can result in more nail damage, which can interfere with regrowing a healthy nail. Scheduling an evaluation with Dr. Forman is the first step in regaining healthy toenails that you aren’t embarrassed to show.
Toenail fungus treatment
Several types of treatment can be effective for toenail fungus. Before advising a specific course of action, Dr. Forman examines your feet and discusses your symptoms. He may remove a nail clipping or debris to view under a microscope or use for a laboratory culture. These steps are important to determine what type of fungus is the source of your infection.
Based on your medical history and the severity of your toenail fungus, Dr. Forman may employ one of the following types of treatment:
- Oral antifungal medication: prescription drugs that work internally to help a new, fungus-free toenail replace the infected toenail
- Topical antifungal medication: prescribed cream that you rub into your infected toenail as directed
- Medicated nail polish: prescription nail polish that you apply at home as directed
- In-office laser treatment: works to destroy the infection at the source
- Nail removal: recommended in severe cases
Removing the affected toenail may be necessary if your condition doesn’t respond to other treatments or if the nail is causing extreme pain. By removing the toenail, Dr. Forman can apply antifungal drugs directly onto the infection.
If you suspect you have a toenail fungus, don’t wait to seek treatment. Get a proper diagnosis and find out what you can do about those unsightly toenails by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Forman of Put Your Feet First.