As we age our bodies immune systems weaken, leaving our bodies naturally more prone to conditions that affect parts of the body that are normally healthy and take care of themselves. A good example of this is toenail fungus. While not common in people under 45 toenail fungus is very common as we age, with almost 85% of the population over 65 affected to some degree by toenail fungus. Let’s take a look at some treatment options to get rid of this persistent fungal infection.
In recent years the internet has touted several at home remedies for nail fungus. Essential oils have risen to great popularity in recent years, and a few of these oils (tea tree, orange, lavender) do possess anti fungal properties. Soaking toes in an apple cider and water solution is a popular solution, probably because most households have apple cider vinegar right in the cabinet. Also, recent years have seen a huge rise in the use of coconut oil for a variety of health conditions. While all of these solutions may have some success at treating fungus on the surface of the nail they are ultimately a bandage on a larger problem. That’s because fungus penetrates below the nail and lives in the area referred to as the nail matrix, where the nail forms. Because the fungus is beneath the skin the infection keeps coming back.
Oral antifungal medications are a very common and effective treatment of nail fungus. They work faster than topical medications because the drugs destroy the fungus internally, meaning nails grow back healthy and unaffected by fungus. These medications do come with some risk, patients who have immune deficiencies and diabetics cannot take them because they can cause damage to the liver.
The newest treatment for toenail fungus is brought to us by advances in medical science, lasers. Laser wavelengths can be set to target fungal cells, whether on the surface of the toenail or beneath the skin. This treatment method has seen a lot of attention recently because it is both effective as well as having no potentially harmful side effects.
If you think you have a toenail fungus visit your local podiatrist. They will take a sample of the nail and send it off to a lab for a nail biopsy, to determine exactly what fungus is affecting the nail so they can better customize your treatment plan. Ankle & Foot Associates has 17 locations in Georgia and South Carolina to help better serve our patients. Our kind and caring doctors are ready to help you get back on your feet and living a happy and healthy lifestyle again.