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Fungal Toenails

What is toenail fungus?


Toenail fungus presents as thickened, discolored, and/or deformed toenails. It can be as mild as just a color discoloration and as severe as onychogryphosis, where the nail can resemble a ram’s horn. The more long standing the condition is, the more likely the nail itself will become brittle and crumbly where the nail may just fall off.


What causes toenail fungus?


Toenail fungus is caused by a fungal infection. Fungus thrives in dark and moist environments. If your shoe is damp or wet and you do not change your shoes or socks immediately, you are prone to developing fungal toenail infections.


If your feet is naturally sweaty, then the best way to prevent toenail fungus from developing is to use foot powder. Also, do not wear 100% cotton socks as cotton retains moisture and creates a damp environment, promoting fungus growth. Instead, opt for moisture-wicking socks.


What are my options?


If you happen to notice that one (or more) of your toenails are abnormal, seek care immediately. It is much easier to treat early onset of fungal toenail with a much higher success rate compared to waiting six months plus. Additionally, keep in mind that if the condition is caused by fungus, the longer you leave it untreated, the more likely that it can spread to other toenails, and the harder it is to be completely eradicated.

Prior to treatment, we need to confirm that the toenail is indeed infected with fungus. To do so, your podiatrist will recommend a toenail biopsy, which is pain-free. It entails clipping a piece of your toenail and sending it to a pathology lab for evaluation. If the lab results confirm fungus diagnosis, treatment options include, but are not limited to:

  • Topical antifungal solution

  • Oral antifungal medication

  • Laser therapy

Your doctor will go over thoroughly the risks, benefits, and success rate of each treatment option.

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