Worman Foot & Ankle Associates
Podiatry located in Largo, FL
A toenail fungus infection (onychomycosis) can become so severe that your toenails start breaking away and causing pain. If you’re noticing yellowish or discolored toenails, expert podiatrist Jeffrey Worman, DPM, can treat you right in the office at Worman Foot & Ankle Associates in Largo, Florida. Book your toenail fungus infection evaluation by clicking on the online scheduler or by calling the office directly.
Toenail Fungus Q & A
Many people don’t realize they have a fungal nail problem. Moreover, many don’t seek treatment. Still, fungal toenail infections are a common foot health problem.
Such infections can persist for years without ever causing pain. The disease, characterized by a change in a toenail’s color, is often considered nothing more than a mere blemish, but it can present serious problems if left untreated.
Also referred to as Onychomycosis, fungal nail infections are an infection underneath the surface of the nail, which can also penetrate the nail. In addition to causing difficulty and pain when walking or running, fungal nail infections are often accompanied by a secondary bacterial and/or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.
A group of fungi called dermophytes easily attack the nail, thriving off keratin, the nail’s protein substance. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail may become thicker, yellowish-brown or darker in color, and foul smelling. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails.
Nail bed injury may make the nail more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributory factors may be a history of Athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration.
You can prevent fungal nail infections by taking these simple precautions:
- Exercise proper hygiene and regularly inspect your feet and toes.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- Wear shower shoes in public facilities whenever possible.
- Clip your nails straight across so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe.
- Use a quality foot powder – talcum, not cornstarch – in conjunction with shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe.
- Avoid wearing excessively tight hosiery, which promotes moisture. Socks made of synthetic fiber tend to “wick” away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks, especially for those with more active lifestyles.
- Disinfect home pedicure tools and don’t apply polish to nails suspected of infection.
Depending on the type of infection you have, over-the-counter liquid antifungal agents, while sometimes effective, may not prevent a fungal infection from recurring. A topical or oral medication may need to be prescribed, and the diseased nail matter and debris removed by a process called debridement.
In some cases, surgical treatment is prescribed, during which the infected nail is removed. Permanent removal of a chronically painful nail, which has not responded to any other treatment, permits the fungal infection to be cured, and prevents the return of a deformed nail.
What are the symptoms of a toenail fungus infection?
Toenail fungus infections can persist for years without causing dramatic symptoms or even pain. This condition is often overlooked because it starts out as a simple change in your toenail’s color, like small white dots. As the fungal invaders continue spreading throughout your nail bed though, you may start experiencing:
- Pain while walking or running
- Yellow to brown-colored nails
- Severely brittle nails
- Thickened nails
The more and more fungi continue to thrive, the more likely you are to begin noticing a foul-smelling odor. These symptoms all indicate that it’s time to seek professional toenail fungus infection treatment.
How does a toenail fungus infection spread?
The fungal invaders that lead to toenail fungus infections thrive in warm, moist, dark environments. It’s possible that you came into contact with the infection simply by walking barefoot next to a pool. These fungi thrive on the protein in your nails known as keratin.
If you regularly wear sweaty socks or shoes, or don’t clean and dry your feet thoroughly each day, fungi continue to grow and spread. These fungal invaders can spread from toe to toe and even foot to foot. If you pick or scratch at your nails, you also risk spreading the fungal infection to your fingernails.
Do I need treatment for a toenail fungus infection?
Yes! Especially if you’re experiencing pain or if your nails are crumbling away, or if you’re susceptible to severe infection because of diabetes, immune-deficiency issues, or circulatory problems.
At Worman Foot & Ankle Associates, Dr. Worman evaluates your feet carefully and discusses with you which toenail fungus infection treatments may be best for you. You may benefit from:
- Over-the-counter liquid antifungal agents
- Prescription topical or oral antifungal drugs
- Removing the diseased nail tissue (debridement)
In more severe cases, Dr. Worman could recommend permanent toenail removal. This in-office procedure begins with thoroughly numbing your toe, then gently trimming away your toenail, and finally, treating the growth center with a chemical or laser.
Permanent toenail removal at Worman Foot & Ankle Associates is typically reserved only for cases where curing your fungal infection is not possible, and you have a high risk of a future toenail infection or nail deformity.
Get treatment for your toenail fungus infection by booking your evaluation at Worman Foot & Ankle Associates today. Schedule either online or over the phone.