Fungal nails or onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail. Fungal nails are the most common complaint by patients of all ages and constitutes for half of all nail abnormalities. Fungal nails or onychomycosis, are typically seen mostly in diabetics but they can arise in people of any age group or health status.
Fungal nails may affect toenails and/or fingernails but toenail infections are the most commonly seen. It occurs in about 10% of the adult population and toenails are usually more resistant and more difficult to treat. In some situations, permanent nail removal is a possible avenue for treatment for the fungal toenails.
Fungal nails are caused by poor foot hygiene, hyperhidrosis (excessive foot sweating), walking barefoot in communal showers or damp public areas such as swimming pools, gyms, failure to dry the feet thoroughly following sporting activities, or spread from an existing skin infection. People that are over the age of 65 years old are more susceptible to developing fungal toenails. This is due to diminished blood circulation, unaware of longer exposure to fungi, and nails grow slower and thicker. That is why it is important for you to have a proper and thorough foot and nail examination by Dr. Theall at Gentle Touch Foot Care.
Other risk factors include swearing heavily, being in a humid or moist environment, wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and do not absorb perspiration, having athlete's foot (tinea pedis), skin or nail injury, damaged nail, or other infection, and having diabetes.
Several treatments for fungal nails include regular foot care trimming performed by a podiatrist, over the counter creams, prescription strength creams and nail solutions, prescription strength oral medications such as Lamisil (must get clearance from your primary care physician and podiatrist who are treating you first before treatment can begin), and laser therapy.
After a fungal nail infection has cleared up, you can take steps to prevent the infection from coming back. Keeping the fungus under control will help prevent a fungal infection of the skin from re-infecting the nail. Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet, and apply a non-prescription anti-fungal cream to the entire foot from the ankle down. Use the cream every night, then gradually apply it less often. Keep your feet dry. Dry feet are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet after you take a shower or bath.
- Don't share nail clippers or nail files with others.
- Don't share shoes or socks with others.
- Try not to injure your nail, such as by cutting it too short (trauma to the nail may lead to infections).
- Wear dry cotton socks, and change them two or three times a day if necessary.
- Wear dry shoes that allow air to circulate around your feet (tight, enclosed, moist shoes contribute to fungal toenail infections).
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when you are at a public pool or shower.
Following basic foot care guidelines for your feet and nails is the key to keeping away unwanted foot fungus. Following Dr. Theall’s expert opinion and advice regarding the prevention of nail fungus will place you on the right track for your foots health. If you think you have nail fungus or if you just want a professional evaluation please contact Dr. Theall, Podiatrist at Gentle Touch Foot Care for a full comprehensive and thorough examination to discuss your foot health.