Fungal Toenails

by | Jul 28, 2017

At Anderson Foot and Ankle, we provide treatment for a wide range of problems that develop in the lower limbs. Sure, many patients come to see us for medical care when they have pain or impaired functionality of a foot or ankle, but some come to us so they can have conditions affecting toenails treated in a safe, effective manner.

With regards to toenail conditions, one of the most common ones we treat is nail fungus. We understand why, when compared to other possible foot or ankle issues, this may seem to be a relatively superficial matter, but the basic fact is this:

A case of fungal toenails can be embarrassing, cause one to be self-conscious (when walking in sandals or open-toed shoes), and take away from quality of life. 

Those are all strong reasons to seek treatment for toenail fungus, and they don’t even take into consideration how any type of infection is going to be concerning if diabetes is also in the picture.

Our goal at Anderson Foot and Ankle is to help you by providing the professional treatment you need to clear up a case of discolored, distorted fungal nails.

How Fungal Toenails Develop and Ways You Can Recognize Them

So why do fungal toenails develop?

At a very basic level, these particular infections are caused by a microscopic organism known as dermatophyte fungus. As is the case with most fungi, this microorganism doesn’t require sunlight in order to survive and can live and grow in dark, damp, and warm environments.

(You know what is a “dark, damp, and warm” environment? A foot covered in a sock and shoe!)

Microscopic fungal spores are found all around us, but do tend to be more prevalent in places like swimming pool decks, gym locker room floors, and communal showering areas (all of which tend to be warm and damp, to varying degrees). Once you are in one of these kinds of places, all it takes is a tiny cut or small separation between a nail and its nailbed for the dermatophyte to enter and ultimately cause a fungal infection.

Recognizing a case of toenail fungus (onychomycosis) is the first step to receiving the treatment you need. The most obvious symptom of this condition is discolored (typically yellow) nail tissue, but others include toenails that are:

  • Darkened in color (attributed to debris buildup under the surface of an infected nail)
  • Dull in appearance (lacking the shine associated with healthy toenails)
  • Ragged, brittle, or crumbly
  • Thickened and/or distorted in shape
  • Emitting a foul odor (in severe infections)
  • Separated from the nailbed

Toenail Fungus and Diabetes

If you are diabetic, you should already know how important diabetic foot care is for keeping your feet safe. One of the most important elements of your foot care plan is inspecting your feet every day for anything out of the ordinary, including toenail fungus.

Those who live with diabetes have a greater risk of infection than otherwise healthy individuals. This can be attributed to the effect diabetes has on the body’s white blood cells – the ones responsible for fighting against infection. If you are diabetic and suspect you have contracted a case of fungal toenails, come see us as soon as possible.

How to Treat Fungal Nails

When it comes to treatment for fungal toenails, we offer a couple of different options:

  • Oral medication – Between the two different medicinal approaches, oral medication is more effective at eliminating the infection residing underneath the nail.
  • Topical medication – This medication is used to fight the infection from the outside and is used to eradicate fungal spores residing on the surface of infected nails.

It is important to mention that fungal infections are quite stubborn. Seeking treatment at the earliest possible opportunity is best for optimal (and quicker) results.

How You Can Prevent Fungal Toenails

Naturally, even better than treating a fungal infection (or any medical issue, actually) is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Now, the truth of the matter is that it can be difficult to completely remove all risk of this condition, but you can certainly lower your odds of sustaining this infection with tips such as:

  • Keep your feet dry, especially the areas between your toes
  • Wash your feet every day with soap and water
  • Wear clean shower shoes or sandals in locker rooms, gym showers, and on pool decks
  • Wear socks that wick away moisture
  • Choose footwear that allows your feet to breathe
  • Keep your nails properly trimmed
  • Use antifungal powder or spray in your shoes

Hopefully these prevention measures will help to keep your nails clear and healthy. If you still develop a fungal infection—or you already have one—you can have it treated here at Anderson Foot and Ankle. We take pride in providing exceptional podiatric services for all our patients in the greater Salt Lake City community, so give us a call at (801) 269-9939. If you’d prefer, you can take advantage of our online form to connect with us right now.

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Suite # 420
Salt Lake City, UT 84121