Are you worried that people will stare at you when you wear sandals or open-toed shoes? Nail fungus is unsightly, often causing more issues than just an infection. Your personal life may also suffer. Nail fungus is a common condition; however, many people will develop a more substantial form called onychomycosis.
Onychomycosis typically begins as a white or yellow spot underneath the toenail or fingernail. It is more common on the toenails and it can affect some or all of the nails. Onychomycosis is an infection that grows underneath the nails causing discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail surface. In some cases, it can become painful without proper treatment. It can also limit mobility, and because it can indirectly decrease peripheral circulation, those with diabetes can find that onychomycosis can worsen conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers.
Working closely with your healthcare professionals can help determine the type of treatment necessary. New treatment options can also help you find relief from nail fungus.
What is Onychomycosis?
An infection in the fingernail or toenail that is caused by a fungus is called onychomycosis. Fungal infections are more common in the toenails. This infection causes toenails to become thick, discolored, and disfigured, and they tend to split. Often the symptoms of onychomycosis cause only a cosmetic concern. If left untreated, the infection can become painful. Worsening nail fungus symptoms can cause the nailbed to crack or crumble when wearing shoes that indirectly cause more pressure, irritation and pain. Onychomycosis is common amongst aging individuals, those who suffer from diabetes, and those with a poor immune system.
Symptoms of Onychomycosis
Symptoms of a nail fungus infection include:
- Thickened or brittle nails
- Crumbling or ragged appearance
- Nail shape is distorted
- Dull appearance with little shine
- Dark color caused by debris buildup under the nailbed
Nails that are infected may also separate from the nailbed completely or partially. Pain and odor are common symptoms of onychomycosis. Those with diabetes should visit their physician immediately if they suspect a nail fungus infection to receive proper treatment.
What Causes Onychomycosis?
For many people who suffer from onychomycosis the cause is often unknown. Nail fungus can be caused by wearing heavy boots with little air flow or from walking barefoot in locker rooms. Typically, any type of warm environment that is also wet can harbour fungus growth. There are some at home remedies you can do that may help deter nail fungus.
If you have a nail fungus infection, following these tips can help:
- Keep the nails trimmed short
- File down any thick or lumps in the nails
- Do not use the same nail file or nail trimmer on healthy nails as the one used on infected nails
- Wear waterproof gloves or 100% cotton gloves for work needs
- Wear 100% cotton socks and change socks often, especially if damp or wet
- Purchase shoes that offer good support and a wider area for the toes
Treatment Options for Onychomycosis
Treatment options for onychomycosis vary, however, medications are the most common option. Unfortunately, medications have not been very effective in the past, since the nails grow slowly and blood supply is minimal in the nails. There are now more effective treatment options that include both oral and topical medications. However, the reoccurrence rate is high and treatment options also come with some risks.
Surgery is an option for those who require more immediate treatment. This treatment option includes either surgically or chemically removing the infection by removing the nail completely. Laser treatment is a newer option that kills the pathogens that cause the fungal infection. More progressive treatment options such as photodynamic therapy are making waves in the medical community as a more effective treatment option for severe to moderate onychomycosis.
What Is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic therapy is a treatment option utilized to remove nail fungus by sterilizing or disinfecting the hard or soft tissue by topically applying a photosensitizing compound to the infected area and then irradiating the fungal infection with a special light. The treatment is delivered at a wavelength that is absorbed by the photosensitizing compound. This destroys the microbes that cause infection.
If you are worried that you may have the early signs or symptoms of onychomycosis, visit your healthcare professional. The team at Step by Step is highly trained in administering treatment options to those who suffer from onychomycosis. Don’t let a fungal nail infection deter you from enjoying life. Get the treatment you need by calling Step by Step today.