Toe Nail Fungus Treatment

Horizon Foot & Ankle in St. Louis, MO - a fungal toenail that is brittle and crumbling.

Fungal Nail Treatment in St. Louis

How healthy are your toenails? If you’re like most people, you may not think about your feet beyond which pair of shoes make them look the best. However, as the vehicles of movement for the human body, your feet are immensely important.

If you find your toenails are discolored or damaged, fungi may be to blame. It’s essential that you take care of fungal nails right away to reduce further issues or complications. Though it may seem like a mere inconvenience at first, the truth is this condition can be painful and interfere with your daily life. Our friendly team at Horizon Foot & Ankle is here to help keep your feet healthy and pain-free.

To keep your toes healthy, here’s what you need to know about fungal nails.

What Are Fungal Nails?

As the name implies, a fungal nail infection is when fungus grows in the nail bed. Officially called onychomycosis, this condition is relatively common. Most cases of onychomycosis occur on the feet, although it develops on the hands. It’s generally mild and often goes away on its own, but can occasionally become painful and require medical attention.

What Are the Causes?

For fungi to take root in the nail bed, they need access. Brittle and cracked nails are the perfect opportunity for fungus to enter. Unlike viruses and bacteria, onychomycosis isn’t usually passed from person to person.

So what exactly is growing beneath your nail? There are a few types of fungi that can cause this condition:

  • Mold
  • Yeast
  • Dermatophyte

What Are the Symptoms?

The most common symptom is yellow discoloration and/or white spots, usually starting in a single area beneath the nail but can quickly spread. You may also notice changes in your nail texture:

  • Crumbling
  • Brittleness
  • Thickening

In more severe cases, you may notice a foul odor or experience pain.

How Can You Prevent Fungal Nails?

Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent a fungal nail infection. First of all, if you have athlete’s foot, it’s essential to treat it immediately. Toss shoes that may have been contaminated and make sure to wash socks and towels often.

Additionally, look for footwear that allows your feet to “breathe.” This prevents the accumulation of sweat that can create the perfect environment for fungi.

How Are They Diagnosed?

For a diagnosis, you’ll need to visit one of our medical professionals. Your doctor will examine your toenails and identify the fungus type by taking samples. Extracting a sample involves scraping debris from beneath the nail or taking clippings.

If you have psoriasis and suspect you have nail fungus, it’s best to talk to your doctor rather than attempting to treat the condition at home. Psoriasis can sometimes appear similar to nail fungus, and it’s crucial that you know which condition is the cause before attempting treatment.

How Are They Treated?

Fungal nail treatment is relatively simple. While some at-home remedies offer a degree of success, you should consult with your doctor before trying any. When it comes to treatments prescribed by medical professionals, there are three main types: cream, polish, and oral medication.

  • Cream

    • Creams are a common treatment that can be easily applied at home. First, you or your doctor thin the nail with filing or a special lotion. Second, you soak your foot in warm water. Last, you rub the antifungal cream directly onto the nail.
  • Polish

    • Some people prefer anti-fungal nail polish since they’re already familiar with the application process. However, medicated polishes are typically long-term solutions and can take up to a year to fully work.
    • The application process is much like painting your nails: You apply the substance to your toenail, but unlike regular polish, you also want to cover the surrounding skin. Repeat this for a week. At the end of the week, you wipe away the polish and begin again.
  • Oral Medication

    • Since it acts quickly, oral medication is usually the first plan of attack against fungal nails. However, it can come with several side effects, so it’s not recommended for anyone with congestive heart failure or liver damage.

 

Contact Our Office

Do you suspect you may have fungal nails and don’t know how to get rid of them? The team at Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute can help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (314) 381-1800 or contact us online.

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Photo Credit: Manuel-F-O / Getty Images