What is toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in colour and smells foul. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. If ignored, the infection can spread and possibly impair your ability to work or even walk. The resulting thicker nails are difficult to trim and make walking painful when wearing shoes.
It is important to see a podiatrist as soon as you notice any discolouration, thickening, or deformity of your toenails. The sooner you see a podiatrist, the better your chances will be at getting your toenails to clear.
What are the causes?
Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where you are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools and showers. Injury to the nail bed, even pressure from shoes, may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete's foot and excessive perspiration.
What are the treatments?
Treatments may vary, depending on the nature and severity of your infection. A podiatrist can detect a fungal infection early, determine the cause, and form a suitable treatment plan, which may include prescribing topical or oral medication, and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of the infected nail.
Trying to solve the infection without the qualified help of a podiatrist can lead to more problems. With new technical advances in combination with simple preventive measures, the treatment of this lightly regarded health problem can often be successful.
How can fungal nails be prevented?
Good hygiene and regular inspection of your feet are the main factors in prevention. Following the list of tasks below can help:
· Wash your feet with soap and water, remembering to dry thoroughly
· Wear shower shoes when possible in public areas
· Change shoes and socks more than once daily
· Clip toenails straight across so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe, or see a podiatrist to cut your toenails professionally
· Wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe
· Avoid wearing excessively tight hosiery to decrease moisture
· Disinfect instruments used to cut nails. At Podiatry & Wellness Clinic, all of our instruments are disinfected to the highest standards possible
· Don't apply polish to nails suspected of infection
If you would like a complete foot assessment, contact us today to book an appointment with one of our podiatrists.
Parts of the information above are referenced from www.apma.org