Many people are self-conscious about their feet, so when they notice something might be wrong with them, they might not seek treatment right away, which only makes things worse and allows the problem to worsen. Toenail fungus is one such problem. A fungal infection underneath the toenails is one of the conditions our patients tell us embarrasses them the most, but rest assured, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Toenail fungus is extremely common and nothing to be ashamed of. Roughly 10 percent of Americans have toenail fungus, but that number drastically increases in older patients. Fortunately, fungal nail infections are relatively easy to diagnose and treat, particularly with modern technology like laser treatments.
How Do You Get Toenail Fungus?
Fungus thrives in damp, moist environments. Pools, hot tubs, saunas, and showers are all places where you can pick up a nasty case of toenail fungus -- particularly if they're shared or public facilities. You can also end up with toenail fungus if you wear sweaty socks or shoes for too long. You might not notice you have a problem at first, as toenail fungus usually starts out as a small yellow spot under your toenails. However, over time the fungus will spread, ultimately thickening the toenail while simultaneously causing it to become fragile or cracked. It can even spread from under the nail and onto the surrounding skin of your toes and foot, at which point the condition isn't just toenail fungus, but also athlete's foot.
How Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus?
Sometimes, it's tough to prevent a case of toenail fungus if you simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in general, practicing good hygiene can help ward off an infection. Try to dry off your feet after they get wet, and if you're in a damp, public area, wear flip flops to prevent your feet from coming into direct contact with a potentially dirty or contaminated surface. If you don't have flip flops or shoes, don't forget to wash your feet after you've been barefoot in a public area.
Clipping your toenails in order to keep them short makes it easier to keep them clean as well, but don't share nail clippers with other people, as this can also transfer the types of fungus that can cause an infection. In addition, if you go to a nail salon, be sure it's a reputable and certified facility that cleans and sterilizes its tools after each use.
How is Toenail Fungus Treated?
There are a number of courses of action to help eliminate toenail fungus, but they vary in their effectiveness. Some individuals like to use a topical antifungal cream, but the results aren't always satisfactory. A more reliable method is an oral antifungal medication such as terbinafine (more commonly known by its brand name of Lamisil). However, this can take roughly 12 weeks to clear up toenail fungus, and the appearance of the nails often leaves something to be desired. As a result, more and more patients are opting for laser treatment.
Why is Laser Nail Treatment So Beneficial?
Laser treatment for toenail fungus is the sure-fire way to clear up the unsightly appearance brought on by the fungus and return your feet to their normal appearance. Dr. Dunn uses the latest in laser technology (HyperBlue® laser treatments) to penetrate beneath the surface of your toenail and kill the underlying fungus without causing any damage to the surrounding areas of the toe or nail. Each laser session only lasts 10 minutes, and the procedure is pain-free. It usually only takes three or four treatments to completely solve the problem, and there is no recovery time after each session.
Laser treatment will completely destroy the fungus under your nails and stop it from spreading. Once your nail grows out, it will return to its original, natural, and healthy clear appearance.
If you have toenail fungus, it's important to get rid of the infection now before it becomes any worse. If left to linger, a fungal nail infection can discolor and damage your nails, spread to other areas of your foot, and even cause a foul odor and pain when walking. In extreme cases, removal of the toenail is sometimes necessary. Fortunately, most cases of toenail fungus are very routine and easily treatable, especially if diagnosed early on. You don't need to be embarrassed about your condition any longer! Schedule an appointment with Dr. Dunn today to help rid yourself of this pesky problem. Before you know it, your fungus will be gone and your nails will look normal again. We look forward to working with you!