Let's face it: thick, discolored toenails are embarrassing, and they can even be painful. If you're lucky enough to not suffer from fungal nails, read on to learn how to avoid this nasty infection. If you already have fungal nails, good news: we have several treatment options that can work for you! Fungal nails are troublesome and keep you from wearing stylish, open-toed shoes. Luckily, the infection is avoidable and treatable.
What Causes Fungal Nails?
Fungal infections of the toenails are caused by wet, warm environments, which make the infection-causing fungi feel right at home. Sweaty shoes are one way to pick up the unsightly ailment. Using unsanitary tools on your toenails or getting a pedicure at an unhygienic nail salon can also spread the fungus to any or all of your ten toes.
Toenail fungus appears most commonly in older adults and those living with diabetes. They typically present as a yellow or brown discoloration of the nail. A significant increase in the thickness of your nail can also indicate a fungal infection. Finally, nails that become crumbly, brittle, warped, or deformed can also be a sign that you have fungal toenails.
How Should I Treat Fungal Toenails?
If there is one thing people already know about fungal toenails, it's that they can take a while to eradicate. Time and dedication are necessary when proceeding with any treatment. While an effective, quick remedy for fungal nails doesn't exist, many treatment options are available. We offer three types of treatment and work with you to come up with a plan that coincides with your individual needs and lifestyle.
- Oral Antifungals: Lamisil (terbinafine) is often prescribed for a period of 12 weeks. The oral antifungals require lab work and one or more follow-up appointments to ensure you can continue the medication safely and to check your progress.
- Topical Antifungals: Topical antifungal medications can work for virtually every patient. While the treatment may take longer, there are virtually no side effects and the products are almost always available over the counter. We have topical antifungals available for purchase right in our office for your convenience.
- Laser Nail Therapy: Laser therapy is available as another non-invasive treatment option. The laser passes through the nail to target the fungi living below. This allows healthy, clear nail growth to come in. Some patients see visual improvement after just a few sessions!
When is the Best Time to Start Fungal Toenail Treatments?
I often have patients call about fungal infections in the spring and summer, which makes sense! People are breaking out those sandals and noticing some embarrassing, discolored nails. That being said, fungal nail treatments can take up to twelve weeks. Call us in the fall! That way, your nails will be ready for the sandals come summertime.
The best time to treat fungal toenails is in the fall or winter. Fungal nail treatments work as the nail grows, so beginning the treatment months before sandal-season give your nails time to grow out. On top of that, topical antifungals don't work over nail polish, so using these treatments when you're not wearing open-toed shoes may make you more comfortable and avoid embarassment.
Prevention and Aftercare: How to Avoid Fungal Toenails
Like any illness or condition, prevention is always the best option. Consider the significant investment of your time required when treating fungal nails. There are many ways to prevent a fungal infection in the first place or to avoid another instance of pesky fungus following successful treatment.
- Wash your feet every day. Dry them thoroughly after cleansing with a gentle soap and make sure not to use scalding hot water.
- Use antifungal powders in your shoes. The powder will help dry up any moisture and inhibit fungus as well as odor-causing bacteria.
- Don't let your shoes and socks get damp. Change your socks every day and after exercise.
- Always wear shower shoes in gyms or other public showers. These damp places are a fungi's favorite place, so protect your feet and nails at all costs!
- Trim your nails straight across and sanitize your clippers after use. Believe it or not, fungal infections are contagious to others in your home and to your other (non-fungal) toenails.
- Avoid nail polish and artificial nails. These can trap moisture and create a cozy home for that problematic fungi.
- Avoid nail salons. If you do treat yourself to a pedicure, make sure you do thorough research on your salon and ensure tools are sterilized after each customer. Don't go to a nail salon if you have fungal or ingrown toenails.
If you are diabetic, immunocompromized, or just need some help trimming your nails, ask us about our Express Pedicure service.
At the End of the Day...
You don't have to wear closed-toed shoes all summer. There's no need to live with embarrassing, pesky, yellow toenails. The friendly Team at Freeland Foot and Ankle Clinic understands how common fungal toenails are, and we strive to relay your treatment options to you in an understanding and comprehensive manner. If you are suffering from thick, discolored nails, give us a call today at 989-695-6788 or contact us online to book your appointment!