Many individuals suffer with common foot fungus that attacks the toenail. The medical term for this condition is onychomycosis and it is more likely to affect the little and big toes. Fungi thrive in the warm and damp environment provided by most shoes. Eventually fungus begins to feed on the keratin making up the toenail.
Those At Risk For Toenail Fungus
Children rarely develop this condition but seniors are susceptible with nearly half the adult population over 70 suffering with fungus on one toe or more.
Individuals who wear multiple layers of nail polish and shoes that are too tight are more likely to contract toenail fungus. It can spread from one individual to another in public showers and locker rooms. Patients with HIV, diabetes or any health problem that compromises circulation are at increased risk.
How to Recognize Toenail Fungus
The fungus will cause the nail to thicken and turn brown or yellow. A foul-smelling substance may accumulate underneath the overgrown nail. It some cases the nail breaks apart and fall off while in others it grows too thick to wear shoes comfortably.
How Physicians Diagnose Toenail Fungus
When a painful infection requires medical intervention, a physician will do a physical examination and may opt to send samples to a lab. Technicians use microscopes to identify fungi and other types of infection.
Some individuals may avoid treatment if there is no pain but anyone with diabetes should consult with a physician if they observe nail changes because it can indicate something more serious. Pain while wearing shoes or walking is a sign that medical treatment is necessary.
Trimming the nail and using a medicated polish containing Loprox or Loceryl will treat a mild, localized infection.
Oral medications, including Lamisil and Sporanox, are effective for persistent infections. Patients must take the medication for approximately 12 weeks and it can produce serious side effects.
Serious infections may require a physician to remove the nail through surgery. However, the development of laser treatment has proven to have a 90% effectiveness for curing the disease at its root source.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and clean socks
- Do not walk barefoot in public locker rooms and showers
- Wash the feet daily and use powder to reduce moisture
- Trim toenails regularly
- Avoid multiple layers of polish