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Nail Fungus: What You Need to Know

The most important thing to know is… your own toes. You see them every day, so it’s important that you pay close attention to them at least once a month! You need to be aware of any changes in color or texture- both an indication that you could have a nail fungus.

What is Nail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is an infection that makes its way into your skin through cuts or cracks. Toes are a great environment for the fungus because they are very often warm and damp. Also, important to note is there are different kinds of fungi and sometimes yeast that can affect different parts of the nail. In some cases, the infection can spread to other toenails, skin, or even your fingernails.

What Are You Looking For? A Guide to Symptoms.

Thicker than normal, warping and odd shaped nails could all be symptoms of nail fungus. Sometimes the nails will break very easily, and they can look yellow.  A white dot can also appear on the nail and then grow larger. When fungus builds up under your nail, it can loosen and even separate the nail from the bed. The fungus can also spread to the skin around your nail.

Who Gets Toenail Fungus?

Almost anybody can get toenail fungus. Although, certain groups are more prone. Men – are much more likely to get it than women. Age – the older you are the better the odds you will get toenail fungus. Also, there’s an increased risk for people who have diabetes, athlete’s foot, weak immune system, smoke, or whose family members have it as well. Prior injuries to toenails is also a risk factor. 

When Should You See a Podiatrist?

Since there are different types of toenail fungus, and the infection can look like other conditions, it’s really best to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. A podiatrist can in all likelihood diagnose very quickly but may need to take a small sample of the infected area to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatment

A variety of treatments may be needed, and that’s another reason to have a podiatrist make the diagnosis. A podiatrist can also determine the severity of the problem and immediately recommend the best single treatment or combination of treatments.

Treatments May Include:

  1. A topical cream that goes directly on the nail
  2. A topical nail lacquer
  3. An anti fungal prescription pill
  4. Removing the damaged area of the nail or
  5. In some cases, you might need to have the nail removed completely with surgery.

Prevention.

What are the best ways to avoid toenail fungus?

  1. Cleanliness- Use soap and water to wash your feet, and dry well, including between toes. Wear shower shoes in wet public places like locker rooms and swimming pools.
  2. Keep Feet Dry. Choose socks that wick moisture away. Change them regularly. 
  3. Trim nails straight across, not at an angle and to the proper length (shorter than the end of your toe).
  4. Use clean tools nail clippers and files should be washed with soap and water, then wiped down with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Take a break from nail polish. Your nail bed can’t “breathe,” which keeps fungus from going away.

If you notice changes in color or texture, have pain or notice any of the other symptoms described above, then it’s time to contact us for a diagnosis and the best in recommended care.

Contact our offices Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates  and schedule an appointment today.
To learn more about Nail Fungus and Your Feet, go to Heel Pain Institute of America and Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates

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Author

Francis J. Smith, D.P.M., A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery and Michael A. Klein, D.P.M. A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery​

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