Have you noticed any of your toenails slowly becoming more brittle, discolored, or misshapen? These symptoms may be the result of a fungal infection. If left alone, the fungal infection can cause permanent damage to your nails, and even lead to other infections of the surrounding skin.
Do you have a concern about your foot health?
If you’ve noticed recent changes in your toenails, then consult a podiatrist to determine if you have a nail fungus. Many symptoms may indicate a fungal nail infection, including:
- Discoloration: A key sign that you may have a fungal nail infection is discoloration. If you notice dirt or debris building up underneath the edge of a nail, making it appear dark, then it could be a sign of infection. The nail itself may turn yellow or white and lose its shine.
- Change in Consistency: As the infection in your foot worsens, your nails may grow thicker. This change in the consistency of your toenail can make it uncomfortable to wear sock and shoes, walk, or stand for extended periods of time.
Deterioration: If your nails become brittle and deteriorate, then this is a sure sign of infection. If you notice your toenail beginning to crumble or even separate from your skin, then you likely have a nail fungus. Make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible to begin treatment and restore your toenail to health.
- Misshapen: Despite fungal infection, your nail will continue to grow. Due to the infection, your toenail will become misshapen. These irregularities can make infected nails not only painful, but also embarrassing for the sufferer.
- Odor: In some cases, nail fungus may become so severe that it will emit an unpleasant odor. Misshapenness and the infection itself make it difficult to thoroughly clean your foot. Minor odor is an important sign to visit your podiatrist as soon as possible.
The following are a few steps to take when trying to treat nail fungus at home or with the help of your local podiatrist:
The first step in preventing toenail fungus is to maintain proper hygiene by washing and thoroughly drying your feet every day. Other steps you can take to prevent fungal infection include using antimicrobial lotion on your feet, disinfecting your nail clippers, and wearing shoes that both fit and breathe well.
The simplest way to get rid of a minor toenail fungus problem is to try using a topical cream or lotion. Most of these products involve spreading the topical cream on or around the affected toenail or skin for a few weeks to clear up the infection. Topical creams and lotions are not generally used to cure serious infections.
For more serious toenail fungus problems, schedule a consultation with a trained podiatrist. Podiatrists will often prescribe oral antifungal medications to treat toenail fungus infections that cannot be properly treated with topical medications. It is important to note that these forms of medication can occasionally have negative side effects, such as skin rashes or even liver damage.
Laser nail treatment is a more advanced technique for treating toenail fungus. It is safer and more effective than pills or topical medications. Depending upon severity, laser treatment may clear the fungus with an initial half-hour treatment. Treatments are painless and have an 85% success rate.
Severe fungal toenail problems can often be very painful. In these extreme cases, a licensed foot doctor may even suggest removing the entire nail. Surgery is often paired with antifungal acids to completely remove the infection from the nail bed.
No matter what stage of toenail fungus you are experiencing, the licensed podiatrists at Austin Podiatry Center can help. Call our local office to schedule an appointment today!