Fungal nail infections are common. Unlike an ingrown toenail, they're harmless, but they can drastically alter the way toenails look.
It's caused by micro fungi particles that invade deep nail layers. If your nail is split or cracked, then it's party time for the particles.
In its early stages, it's easy to treat.
But if it establishes itself, a fungal nail infection is stubborn and resilient to remove.
Fungal Nail Signs and Symptoms
The main fungal nail symptoms are:
It's often misdiagnosed. Damage from shoes can appear a lot like a fungal nail infection. So can white spots from shellac nails.
Fungal Nail Causes
Onychomycosis is caused by the same fungi as athlete's foot. The spores find their way into the nail bed and multiply.
Patients are often surprised to hear this. Not all of them have athlete's foot when they present in clinic.
But fungal nail infections are slow to develop. They can be low-key for years before causing real problems.
Thick damaged toenails can look identical to a fungal-infected nail.
When your nail bed is compromised, your nail grows in all kinds of shapes and colors.
The cause could be years of tight shoes, a dropped object or something you've no recollection of.
The bad news is that when a nail bed is damaged, the nail grows back the same way.
The good news is that regular thinning can take it back to almost normal in appearance.
Fungal Nail Infection Treatment
If you have it, get rid of Athlete's Foot ASAP. For this, terbinafine cream is is the best.
Be sure to hot-wash shoes and slippers.
If you've cracked or dropped something on your toenails, keep a close eye on them. The longer the trauma is there, the more likely hood of fungus nailing your nail bed.
Start topical treatment early!
Early Superficial Stage Treatment
Early infections (when it's still at the chalky white spots stage) respond well to laquers.
Use Gehwol Nailcare and a healthy slather of terbinafine cream.
In the beginning, this can stop it in its tracks.
If you're concerned then see a Podiatrist. We can thin the nail to make it more receptive to the solution. We can also tell right away whether it's actually a fungal nail infection!
Treatment of Chronic Fungal Nail Infections
If the infection is deep and well established, the options boil down to:
Terbinafine tablets have to be prescribed by a doctor. You need certain blood tests to determine your suitability. They can have side-effects.
They are the most effective way to regain healthy nails.
I've seen patients with all finger and toenails infected then six months later have no sign of it.
They take a month or two kick in, and the regeneration is slow.
Fungal Nail Fenestration
Fenestration is where tiny holes are drilled into your toenail.
This doesn't hurt, but does need a trained Podiatrist as it's easy to enter your tender nail flesh!
Once these are opened up, a lacquer (usually Lamasil spray) is injected and set to work.
This procedure goes by a few different names, including Clearanail. But the reality is, these are just brand names slapped on drilled holes and lamasil spray.
Results are good overall, but it takes time as in months, not weeks or days!
Laser Fungal Nail Treatment
The new kid on the fungal nail block. Reports on laser for fungal nail infections are varied.
It's nowhere near as effective as some of the marketing suggests, but it does have a place in the anti-fungal arsenal.
It's effectively UV light therapy on steroids.
In the procedure, the thick nail is thinned to make sure the laser gets down and dirty with the fungus.
A special blue gel is applied before light therapy zaps the fungal nail for ten minutes.
A lot of patients opt to manage an established fungal nail infection.
This involves regular nipping and nail reduction with a rotational burr. If an infected nail is kept thin enough, most of it's unappealing appearance is reduced.
Fungal Nail Surgical Removal
A dramatic solution, toenail removal should be left when other options have been exhausted.
The procedure is done under local anesthetic. Although it's painless at the time, it does involve some rehab time. Remember: fungal nail infections take root right down in your nail bed and matrix.
This means that it's important to treat the healed nail bed with lots of anti-fungal cream. Then leave it.
Nail removal without this step runs the real risk of it returning — with a fungal infection still there!
Women (Have Worse Feet Than Men)
Yep, and it's all down to those ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).