Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. When there is trauma to the nail, the nail bed is lifted allowing the fungus to penetrate and invade the nail bed. Without treatment, the fungus can grow and spread in dark, warm, moist environments, such as socks and shoes.
Common signs and symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- Discoloring or yellowing of the nail
- Thickening or crumbling of the nail
- Swelling around the nail
- Disfigured nails
- Streaks or spots down the side of the nail
- Foul-smelling debris under the nail
- Pain and discomfort
- Complete nail loss
Prevention is key
Fungal infections can affect the fingernails as well as the toenails, but toenail fungus is more difficult to treat because toenails grow more slowly. Because removal of the fungus is challenging, prevention plays an important role in treatment.
- Keep nails neatly trimmed
- Practice good foot hygiene, including daily washing with soap and water; drying feet and toes carefully; and changing shoes regularly
- Always wear shoes in public areas, such as showers, locker rooms, and pools
- Wear comfortable shoes that aren’t too tight
- Avoid nail polish which can seal in fungus
Treatment of toenail fungus
If you do develop toenail fungus, especially if the infection becomes painful, visit Step Ahead Podiatry. People with a chronic illness like diabetes should always see a podiatrist if they notice changes in their nails as it may be an indication of more serious problems.
To eliminate the fungus, a podiatrist may remove as much of the infected nail as possible by trimming, filing or dissolving it. Oral or topical antifungal medications may also be prescribed to treat the infection. Only for severe, chronic infections will surgical removal of the nail be recommended. Our Palm Bay office can help diagnose the cause of your toenail problems and make the best recommendation for treatment.