I want to briefly explore nail fungus, as it’s a common topic we discuss with our patient. It’s often times as a secondary or tertiary concern to their main ailment of foot and ankle pain. Fungus in the nail can appear as white, dark or yellowing of the nail, with thickened, brittle, crumbly or ragged appearance. It is often times caused by a dermatophyte fungus, as they like to live in warm, moist environments like showers, swimming pools, and shoes. They can also invade through small cuts in the skin and separations between nail and nail bed.
Fungus more frequently affects toenails as they are usually exposed to the environment fungus likes to breed in, they have less blood flow, and the immune system can have more difficulty detecting the fungus. Risk factors of developing fungus include:
- Working in moist environments
- Wearing shoes and socks that don’t allow proper ventilation or absorb moisture
- Living with someone with fungus
- Walking barefoot in damp communal areas such as showers, pools and gyms
- Having athlete’s foot infection
- Other conditions such as diabetes, circulation problems, and weakened immune system.
Prevention can sometimes be accomplished by washing your feet regularly, wearing socks and shoes that absorb sweat and reduce humidity, discarding old shoes, using antifungal sprays in your shoes, not going barefoot in public areas, not using nail polish or artificial nails (with the exception of KerryFlex nails), and utilizing only sterile nail salons, like the one featured at Raleigh Foot & Ankle Center. Current treatments include topical medication, oral medication, and laser treatments. For any patient who is truly ready to get rid of their fungus, I recommend a synergistic approach of utilizing all three types of treatment, including antifungal spray for shoes. This gives the best chance of treating the fungus from all angles, getting rid of the fungus and keeping it away. It can take 6 months to notice treatment effectiveness, and up to a year to completely resolve, so get treated today to have beautiful nails for next summer!
Don’t forget about Raleigh Foot & Ankle Center’s laser special, going on during the month of October: come in and get laser treatment THIS MONTH and receive a FREE toenail care kit.