Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is an infection beneath a nail caused by organisms known as fungi. If a fungal infection is present, the nail will change in color to brown, white, yellow, or black. The nail’s texture can also thicken and change shape. Toenails with fungus may split and sometimes they’ll lift up and away from the nail bed of the toe. Nail fungus is generally not painful, but if left untreated, the condition can worsen and cause pain in severe cases. The fungus can also spread from one toenail to the others.
Fungi like warm, moist areas. And given that toenails are usually covered with socks and shoes, and feet and toes can sweat a lot, they’re ripe for fungal infections to develop. If you spend a lot of time in water, you’re also more susceptible to developing a fungal infection. Other causes of toenail fungus include trauma to the nail, exposure to someone else with the infection, walking barefoot on a hard surface where the fungi are present, such near a pool or in a shower room. A toenail fungus may develop if you already have another fungal infection such as athlete’s foot. People with diabetes, HIV, or a compromised immune system from chemotherapy are more susceptible to developing fungal infections of the nails.
Depending on the severity of your fungal infection, Dr. Kraft will prescribe topical (applied to the nail) or oral antifungal medications. The course of treatment for both types of meds can last for several months, as it takes time for the nails to completely grow out. In the interim, the medications help prevent new fungi from attacking the nail. Dr. Kraft offers a cosmetic fungal nail treatment that improves the appearance of the nails within a day, while oral anti-fungal treatments are being used by patient.
Ways to prevent the development of new fungal infections include keeping the feet clean and dry, rotating the shoes you wear on a regular basis, and changing socks or hose daily. It’s important to keep the toenails trimmed to prevent fungi from getting underneath the nails. Don’t share nail tools such as clippers, nail files and polish bottles with other people because if they have a fungus, it can spread. If you’re getting a pedicure at a nail salon, make sure the salon and its staff sterilize their tools properly. Your personal nail tools should be kept clean and washed routinely with soap and water then soaked in rubbing alcohol.
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