Are your toenails becoming discolored? Are they becoming thickened? You may have Nail Fungus.
Medically, this condition is known as onychomycosis (ah nee ko my cose is). This problem occurs when a fungus gets under a nail and begins to grow.
Nail Fungus Causes
Toenail fungus can develop following trauma to a toe. Exposure to the fungus can occur in a locker room or at a swimming pool. Fungi grow best in dark, warm, moist conditions so the environment inside shoes is often ideal for fungus growth.
For some individuals, there is a hereditary predisposition to developing nail fungus. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have this problem. Some people with nail fungus complain of pain because the thickened nails press against the toe box of their shoes. Ingrown nails are more likely if you have a nail fungus. For some people, there is no pain, but they find the presence of the fungus unsettling. Many people with toenail fungus also have a chronic athlete’s foot infection.
Nail Fungus Treatments
Toenail fungus tends to spread from the tip of the nail to the base of the nail and also to your other toes. Fortunately, there are treatments available that often eliminate this problem entirely.
- Laser Treatment. The FDA has approved lasers for treatment of toenail fungus. Studies show lasers to be effective 70% of the time. This method is a great option for individuals who do not want to take oral medications and for those who cannot take oral anti-fungals due to drug interactions or allergies. This new, safe, and effective treatment is now available in our office.
- Oral Medications. Oral anti-fungal medication remains a cost effective option. As new healthy nail grows, the old infected nail is trimmed away at the tip of the toe. The medication is usually taken for a few months. It can take up to one year for new, uninfected nail to grow in place of the old infected nail. Oral medications are effective approximately 65-70% of the time. If you have problems with your liver, you cannot take these medications. Before beginning treatment, a blood test needs to be done to make certain your liver is healthy.
- Topical Medications. Topical medications are available to treat nail fungus. The most effective topical agents are those that utilize an agent that helps the medicine penetrate the nail. Medications are applied daily and the top of the nail must be filed down frequently. One year of treatment leads to success rates of well under 50%.
- Nail Removal. Removal of the entire nail allows for complete removal of the area of infection. This can be very effective if only one or two nails are involved. Very little recovery time is required and all normal activities can usually be resumed the next day. Drawbacks include the potential for the nail to regrow a little thicker than normal or for an ingrown nail to occur as the nail regrows. If a nail has become deformed from nail fungus, a permanent removal of the nail is often the best solution. Following a permanent nail removal, new skin grows where the nail used to be.
Laser Treatment for Nail Fungus Video
We Can Help
If you think you have toenail fungus, call us at (317) 573-4250. Doctors Helms, Bowers, or Higgins will help you decide on the best treatment option for you.