A very common problem that causes pain, embarrassment, and confusion is fungal infection of the toenails. Often, people assume that nothing can be done about it and they resign themselves to a lifetime of simple neglect. Most of the time there is not a hygiene issue and research has shown that there is a family predisposition to contracting nail fungus. Sometimes only one person becomes infected or the entire family can have a toenail problem.
By pretending that the condition will go away on its own or will get better with time is inaccurate. Most of the time, the nails will start turning yellow with increased thickness at the tip that only gets worse with time. The good news is that the sooner this condition is treated, the better the long-term results both physical and mental.
Nails that look thickened, discolored, brittle, or flaky most likely are affected by a fungal or yeast infection. Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Candida are the most common organisms that cause this condition. Taking a culture and growing out the organism makes a definitive diagnosis. A nail infection can start on the feet and travel to the fingernails. Athlete’s foot, ringworm, and “jock itch” are all fungal infections and can result from cross contamination from the feet.
Fungal infections are a common problem that can be treated effectively, especially if caught before the whole nail is affected. In order to treat this condition, the nails can be cut and ground down both in thickness and in length. This decreases pain from shoes rubbing on the nails and also reduces any holes that form in people’s socks. Fungus tends to grow in warm moist environments. There are at home measures that you can take to prevent infections. Shoes should not be worn every day in order to allow them to dry out between uses. Also if a person has sweaty feet, socks should be changed throughout the day to absorb moisture. There are over the counter as well as prescription medications which can help control moist, sweaty feet. There are many different types of antifungal drops and creams, as well as oral medicine that can be taken to help get rid of the fungal infection. Recently, nail lasers have received FDA clearance for treatment of nail fungus and have gained popularity.
There are limitations with antifungal topical medications though; they often do not penetrate deep enough to where the fungus lives close to the nail bed. Also the medication must be applied two to three times a day for six to twelve months. Oral medications such as Lamisil require blood work to check for liver problems and must be taken for at least three months to be effective for nail fungus. Lamisil also interacts with other medications so it is not a good option for people who are on multiple mediations or have a history of liver problems.
At Feet First Podiatry nail lasers have been used to treat fungus for over 3 years. Currently, we are using the Nexus 10W Model Laser.
The Nexus 10W delivers a maximum of 10 watts power of continuous wave 980 nm infrared laser, with a range of 0.5 to 10 watts. The Nexus 18W delivers a maximum of 18 watts of continuous wave 980 nm with a range of 0.5 to 18 watts. Most people require three treatments spaced about 3 months apart for best results. Call our office for more information on this procedure.