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There are several different types of fungus that may affect the nails. One that we most often see affecting the toenails is called Onychomycosis. A nail becomes infected when it comes into direct contact with this type of fungus.
Risk factors for nail fungus
Fungal nail infections may develop on just about anyone. There are several risk factors that may lead to infection, including:
- General weakened immune system
- Existing nail injury
- Disorder of the circulatory system
- Athlete’s foot
- Lifestyle conditions, such as wearing close-toed work boots in which feet become more moist and warm.
What a fungal nail infection looks like
One or more nails may become infected by fungus. An infected nail may experience:
- Brittleness or a jagged edge
- Thickening that makes the nail difficult to cut
- Pain during normal activities
How fungal nail infection is diagnosed
When assessing a patient for nail fungus, we begin by taking a medical history and discussion of symptoms. We will perform a physical examination of the affected nail or nails, and may take a small sample of nail material for further testing in a laboratory.
Treatment for nail fungus
Because nails grow at a rather slow pace, the complete clearing of nail fungus may take up to a year. Onychomycosis, in particular, can be a difficult fungal infection to control. Some of treatment options available for nail fungus include medication or surgery.
- Therapeutic treatment for nail fungus may include a topical antifungal medication or oral medication.
- Laser therapy has been shown effective for treating various fungal nail infections.
- Surgical treatment for nail fungus is typically reserved for severe cases in which therapeutic treatment has been or would be ineffective. Typically, a new nail will grow in over time.
Tips for the prevention of nail fungus
- Wear shoes that may reduce the risk of injury to the toenails.
- Keep feet and hands clean and dry as much as possible. After washing hands or working in water, dry hands and feet thoroughly.
- When performing chores in which water is necessary, wear rubber gloves to keep hands dry.
- Wear appropriate shoes in a public pool, locker room, or other public areas where there may be standing water.
- Wear appropriately fitting shoes that are not too tight.
- Wear socks designed for absorption and change socks regularly if feet tend to become damp.
- Do no pick at skin around fingernails or toenails.
- Diabetics should be mindful of controlling their blood sugar in order to decrease susceptibility to infection.
At Seriously Skin, we can help you handle your skin and nail concerns. Contact us today.