What is a fungal nail?
Fungal nails are nails are nails that have been infected by a fungus. Fungus is an organism that thrives in areas that are high in humidity such as shoes, sneakers, swimming pools and showers. Fungus unlike many organisms does not require sunlight to grow and prefers areas that are not exposed to sunlight. For this reason, covering the nails with nail polish for extended periods of time will promote fungal growth on the underlying nail. Fungal infections usually affect only the nail and skin but may enter the blood stream in patients who have suppressed immunity (i.e. Chemotherapy, HIV, immune suppressive medications). People with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or dermatological conditions such as Psoriasis are more at risk for developing nail fungal infections.
How do we treat a fungal nail?
Your podiatrist will perform a thorough history and physical examination. He/She will determine whether there is in fact the presence of a nail fungal infection. If so, a fungal nail culture may be obtained to help confirm this diagnosis. To do this your Podiatrist will take a sample of nail and underlying nail debris and send it to a lab for microscopic evaluation. Your Podiatrist will trim back the affected nail as well as grind or buff away any thickness of the nail. If a fungal infection is identified, your Podiatrist will recommend either a topical or oral medication depending on the severity of infection. In the presence of severe fungal infection, removal of the offending nail may be recommended.
What are the symptoms of a fungal nail?
People who have nail fungal infection will usually notice one or more of the following nails symptoms: thickening, yellow or dark discoloration, yellow lines within the nail, crumbly debris under the nail, brittle nails, whitish powdery substance on top of the nail, or painful toenails especially in shoes.
How can you prevent fungal nails?
- Wear properly fitting shoes. Excessive pressure on the nail or repeated trauma to the nail may lead to infection.
- Wear socks and shoes that are made of breathable materials such as cotton and leather.
- Maintain a dry environment inside shoes by using antifungal powders or sprays.
- Expose your feet to light when it is practical to do so.
Call our office if:
- You experience pain from your toenails.
- Your nails are thick or discolored.
- You have a history of nail fungal infection.