Nail FungusAn Unpleasant Infection
Some topics are simply difficult to discuss without eliciting strong reactions – nail fungus happens to be one of them. The mere thought of fungus growing on someone’s body is enough to make the skin crawl. Fortunately, taking appropriate action can help you not only eliminate a case of fungal toenails, but even reduce the risk of it happening in the first place. Here at Brook Valley Podiatry, we know your best hope of fungal nail prevention starts with education.
Understanding Fungal Infections
Before we jump into treating and preventing this condition, it is useful to understand the backstory and symptoms. Toenail fungus is actually quite common and is also known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium. These forms of fungi thrive in warm, damp environments, which can pretty accurately describe the conditions by your feet if you aren’t careful. Fungus does not require light, which enables them to survive in shoes and socks, and they invade your body through microscopic cuts, abrasions, or even a tiny separation between a toenail and its nailbed.
The symptoms of this condition include nails that are discolored, darkened, and dull in appearance. They are often thickened, brittle, and crumble easily. The edges of affected toenails may be ragged and the infection causes some nails to separate from the nailbed. There may also be pain and a foul odor.
Treatment for Fungal Nail Infections
If you have a mild case, or were lucky enough to catch the condition early, you might be able to clear your nails with home treatment. This often entails using over-the-counter antifungal ointments or nail creams. Before applying the selected product, trim and thin your affected nails to allow the active drug product to reach into deeper layers. Doing so will also decrease pressure on your nails, which reduces any pain you might be experiencing.
When it comes to professional care, there are two different methods that rely on medicinal products to fight the fungus – topical and oral medications. Topical medications that we prescribe are stronger in strength than the ones you can pick up over-the-counter and fight the infection from the outside in. Oral pills do the opposite and attack fungus from the inside out. These treatments can be useful, but they also come with their own respective issues. Most topical medication cannot effectively reach fungus that resides underneath the nail, and oral medication may cause unwanted side effects.
There is now a third option for handling tough fungal infections – laser therapy. This state-of-the-art treatment process uses concentrated wavelengths of light to eradicate the offensive microorganisms, while at the same time keeping healthy tissue safe. Unlike topical medication, the laser can pass through nail tissue to hit fungus residing underneath, yet it does not come with any side effects like oral pills potentially do.
Preventing a Case of Toenail Fungus
Knowing that fungus thrives in warm, damp areas—and that your feet can provide such an environment—it should make sense that a primary prevention method is to keep your lower extremities clean and dry. Specific ways of doing so include washing your feet daily with mild soap, drying them thoroughly afterward (including between the toes), and then wearing clean socks every day.
When you go to the gym or pool, be sure to wear shower shoes or sandals in the locker rooms, shower areas, and on the deck. Avoid borrowing anyone else’s towel or footwear, because this is one way that infections are passed along. Also, make sure that your socks wick away moisture and your shoes allow your feet to breathe.
Effective Nail Fungus Treatment in Spring Valley, NY
Hopefully, our prevention tips help, or you were able to treat a mild case at home, but keep in mind that we offer effective care for toenail fungus here at Brook Valley Podiatry. Our office is located in Spring Valley, NY. There is no need to put up with a condition that we can handle for you, so give us a call at (845) 352-7507 or make your appointment with us online today and let’s get your nails restored to their natural, healthy state.