Fungal Toenails (Onychomycosis) - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options
Fungus infection of toenails afflicts approximately 30 million Americans. It is most prevalent after age 40, but may also infect younger individuals and children. Often, people are not aware of the fungal infection, because the condition is generally painless, and it takes many years for the nails to become deformed.
Some fungal toenails begin after trauma causes bleeding under the nail. Another cause is chronic athlete's foot, which is a fungal infection of skin. The skin fungus eventually spreads to the nails. Once the nails are infected, they become a reservoir of the fungus, leading to persistent athlete's foot. Factors that increase susceptibility to fungal toenails are hot humid weather, sweaty feet, poor circulation, diabetes and immunocompromised states.
Signs of onychomycosis
- Separation of the end of the nail from the nail bed
- Malodorous, soft, yellow material beneath the nail
- Thickened, yellow nails
- Chronic athlete's foot
Onychomycosis is contagious and should be treated. It will not resolve by itself. Although fungal nails were difficult to treat in the past, current medications and treatment protocols can successfully cure the condition.
The doctors of North Shore Foot & Ankle usually employ a three pronged approach that is nearly 100% effective:
- The fungal portions of the nail are painlessly trimmed away and ground smooth.
- A topical fungicide is applied twice daily at home.
- An oral medication is taken once daily for 90 days.
In other circumstances, we employ a soft tissue laser to kill the fungus.
Oral anti-fungal drugs have revolutionized the way we treat fungus infections of the nails. Based on extensive experience with available oral fungicides, our doctors have chosen to prescribe Lamisil® tablets, because Lamisil® offers our patients a very high success rate and an extremely low incidence of side effects and drug interactions.
There is good news for patients who polish their nails. The doctors of North Shore Foot & Ankle offer a nail polish with proven anti-fungal properties in five popular colors.
Good foot hygiene can help you avoid fungus infection of the toenails.
- Do not walk barefoot in public areas such as pools, showers or locker rooms.
- Keep the toenails trimmed short so the fungus cannot latch on to unattached portions of nail.
- Keep the feet dry. Dry carefully between the toes after bathing and use a foot powder if your feet sweat a lot.
- Wash the feet daily, especially between the toes.