Toenail fungus has a number of unpleasant, unsightly symptoms, including discoloration, thickening, and crumbling. Though nail fungus often responds to over-the-counter medication, some cases are persistent, which is why the team of board-certified podiatrists at Ahwatukee Foot & Ankle Center in Phoenix and Maricopa, Arizona, provide prescription antifungal medication. To learn more about how treatment can kill fungus and prevent it from returning, call the office or use the online booking tool today.
Fungus tends to live in warm, damp, dark environments but can be carried in simple dry dust. Your toenails spend hours every day in an environment where fungi can thrive — your socks and shoes. A fungal nail infection means, simply, that a lot of fungi have congregated in your nails.
You’re more likely to get a fungal infection if you don’t thoroughly wash and dry your feet or if your feet are hot and sweaty. If you go barefoot in a locker room or swim in a public pool, you may be exposing yourself to nail fungi.
It’s easy for fungi to spread. You may catch it from another person. Once your nails become infected, the infection can easily spread to other parts of your body. It’s common for nail fungus to accompany athlete’s foot, an infection of the skin between your toes.
Your risk of developing fungal nails is higher if you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or poor circulation. Your toes don’t receive as much blood as your fingers, so it’s harder for them to combat infections. Also, some people are genetically susceptible to nail fungus.
A fungal infection usually includes at least one of the following signs on one or more of your toenails:
A fungal infection isn’t the only thing that can change the appearance or texture of your toenails. Have your podiatrist take a look before you try to treat a fungal infection on your own. He may take either a fungal culture, which is a sample of fungus to test, or perform a biopsy of an infected nail, to determine if you have a fungal infection, how serious it is, and how to treat it.
Not all cases of fungal infections are equally severe. That means they don’t all require the same intensity of treatment. No matter how serious your symptoms are, it’s a good idea to seek treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to other people, to additional toes, or to other parts of your body.
In mild cases, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication that promotes healthy nail growth. Over time, the new nail replaces the infected part of the nail. He may also combine it with a topical antifungal medication, which you apply directly to your nail, similar to nail polish.
Though these medications can help improve the symptoms of fungal nails, they don’t necessarily eliminate the fungus. That means there’s still a risk of recurring fungal nails. If you have a persistent nail infection, your doctor may recommend stronger medications that destroy the fungus and supports healthy nail growth.
Don’t let fungal nails stick around. Schedule an appointment at Ahwatukee Foot & Ankle Center online or over the phone.