A common issue of the nails called onychomycosis (i.e., fungal nail infection) starts as a white or yellow spot under your toenails. This infection may make your nail darker, thicker, and more likely to break as it spreads. It can spread to affect several nails, and sometimes show up on both feet.
This problem is more than just how fungal nails look. Nails can become weak and painful, and in the worst cases, they can make it very difficult to stand, walk, or work out. Going to the beach or wearing open-toed shoes can become impossible.
People who are older, sweat a lot, walk barefoot in damp public areas, have diabetes, circulatory problems, a weak immune system, a minor skin or nail injury, a damaged nail, or any other infection are more likely to get athlete’s foot – which is typically the infection that gets under your nail to create the fungal nail infection.
With Onychomycosis (i.e. fungal nails) occurng in 10% of the general population (it is more common in older adults; the prevalence is 20% in those older than 60 years and 50% in those older than 70 years), one of the most common questions we get asked at Bellevue Podiatry is “What is the best treatment for fungal toenails?”
There isn’t a one size fits all answer unfortauntely. The type of fungus and how bad the illness is will determine the treatment. In some severe cases, antifungal medication may need to be prescribed by a doctor. In others, home remedies and changes to one’s lifestyle work well. But fortunately in many cases, we can successfully treat the fungal nail infection in our Podiatry clinic.
In this important blog, we will discuss how people typically get fungal nail infections, what they can do to reduce their chances of infection (and spreading further if they have one), what treatments are available and which is the best treatment for fungal nails based on thier specific situation.
How to Tell If You Have a Fungus Nail Infection
Do you need treatment for fungal nail?
Fungal nail infections happen to a lot of people at some point in their lives, it is a common issue that is treatable.
The sooner professional care is sought, the more likely it will be to resolve once and for all.
Even though these infection don’t threaten someone’s overall health, they can be ugly and hard to treat properly.
Typically, the infection gets worse slowly, which makes changes to the nail that can be seen when not wearing shoes.
The toenail turns different colours, gets thicker, and changes shape.
At first, a fungal nail infection might not show any obvious signs so it is important to keep an eye on your toenail health.
Keep reading for important tips on how to keep your toenails in check and the chances of getting a fungal nail infection low.
Always keep an eye on your toenails for any of the following signs (and don’t delay in getting them professionally reviewed):
- Changes in the colour of the nail, which could be white, black, yellow, or green.
- The nail gets thicker and warped, giving it an odd shape or feel and making it hard to trim.
- Pain or pain, especially when putting pressure on the finger or toe that is hurt.
- The nails are getting weak or crumbly, and pieces may break off or come off completely
How did I end up with a toenail fungus nail infection??
Typically, when the fungi that cause athlete’s foot spread to the nails, they often cause fungal nail diseases. That’s right – most fungal nail infections are just athelete’s foot (also known as Tinea) that has gotten under the toenail.
These fungi usually live on your skin without hurting you. They do best where it is warm, dark, and damp, like on your feet. Especially if you are wearing closed in shoes for long periods, doing lots of physical work where your feet are hot and sweaty all day. A potential fungal nail infection’s dream conditions.
Some of the things that make getting a fungal nail infection more likely are:
- Not making sure their feet stay clean and dry
- Wearing footwear that leads to hot and sweaty feet
- Walking barefoot in public places like changing rooms, showers, and gyms, where fungal infections can spread quickly
- Having nails that are broken
- Having an immunity system that isn’t working as well
- Having certain health problems, like diabetes, eczema, or peripheral artery disease
It’s important to know that fungal nail diseases can spread. So, if you have the infection, you should take steps to stop it from spreading to other people. Please don’t hestiate to talk to your doctor or Podiatrist if:
- You are worried about how a nail that has a fungus growth looks
- The infection is making things worse, like pain or soreness
How do I stop myself from getting a fungal toenail infection?
What should I do to avoid getting a toenail fungus infection?
No matter if you decide to get treatment or not, you must take certain steps to take care of yourself so that the condition doesn’t get worse or spread to other people.
- Always make sure your hands and feet are clean and dry.
- Choose shoes that fit well and are made of natural materials.
- Also, wear clean cotton socks so your feet can “breathe.”
- Cut your nails short and don’t let other people use your nail clippers or cutters.
- You should get rid of old shoes that could be infected with fungi.
- Take care of athlete’s foot right away to keep it from spreading to your toes.
- It’s important to wash your towels often.
- If you go to a beauty shop, make sure that all of the tools are completely clean between uses.
- Don’t give other people your clothes and socks.
- Don’t walk around barefoot in public pools, showers, and dressing rooms (To protect your feet, think about getting shower shoes).
How to Treat a Fungal Nail Infection - what are the main fungal nail treatment options?
A summary of the fungal nail treatment options for fungal nail symptoms
Anti-fungal medication treatments
Let’s start with the non-Podiatrist treatment option first. In some severe cases, you may be recommended to speak to your GP about anti-fungal oral medications. These pills do have a high success rate however, they also come with some pretty unpleasant side effects (e.g. temporary loss of taste).
If the treatment works, over a few months you should be able to see a new, healthy nail grow from the base of the old nail. The part of the nail that is affected will begin to grow out, and you can gradually cut it off.
Antifungal medicines can effectively treat about 60% of fungal nail infections. It can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to get the nail to look normal again.
Removing the toe nails due to severe nail fungus
Some people may need to have surgery to get rid of their infected nails if other treatments haven’t worked and the infection is very bad or hurts a lot. When your nail is cut off during surgery, a new nail will grow back in its place. But the nail might not grow back for a year or more.
Although considered a final option for some people, it does have a high success rate and people typically at this stage of infection do not have any other options left to get rid of their fungal nails. Keep in mind that the infected nail is considered a “write off” in these cases and it is usually the best thing to do to remove the last remenants of the infected and crumbly nail so clear and healthy nails can grow back.
Laser Therapy Treatment
Laser therapy is another more recent way to treat fungal nail infections that won’t go away. High-intensity light energy is used in this method to kill the fungus.
Early research suggests that laser treatment might be a good way to treat fungal nail infections. There isn’t enough proof, though, to recommend it as a normal treatment as the results are too inconsistent (and the complete procedure can cost over $1000).
Due to the high cost and lack of solid evidence confirming the efficacy of fungal nail laser therapy, at Bellevue Podiatry we do not provide this service. We fully appreciate there are no guarantees with any fungal nail treatment, but would need to see more positive clinicial studies and made available at a lower cost for us to consider it.
So, in our professional opinion, what is the best treatment for fungal toenails?
People who come to Bellevue Podiatry often are unhappy with standard treatments like pills, laser therapy, and antifungal nail paints because they don’t work well enough to get rid of fungal nail infection.
As discussed, the issue with most fungal nails isn’t killing the infection BUT being able to get at the infection under the nail. Clearanail solves this problem by using micro-drilling in a cutting-edge technology that makes it possible for a clinically proven antifungal spray to safely and painlessly reach the infection under the nail plate and kill it once and for all. Clearnail delivers a simple concept (made possible with the latest technology) that works.
It’s different from other treatments because Clearanail is a safe, one-time process that doesn’t require more expensive, repeated treatments.
This new way to treat fungal toes is the first of its kind in Melbourne, and it costs a lot less than other choices like laser therapy.
Prepare for the next warm season by acting now so you can go barefoot with confidence!
Take the first step by calling us today on (03) 9000 0418 or book online for our fungal nail analysis appointment – on the spot test to confirm your fungal nail infection and professional advice on next steps to clear & healthy nails.