What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus, clinically diagnosed as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection of the toenail and nail bed. It is characterized by a change in color of the nail (typically yellow, orange or brownish) and the nail becoming both thickened and brittle and jagged. In some cases toenail fungus can lead to ingrown nails.
Toenail fungus is commonly transmitted in common areas such as pools, gyms, locker rooms and even pedicure shops. The first toe (big toe) is the most commonly infected, but the fungus can easily spread to other toes, especially if the patient often wears close toed shoes.
Common symptoms of toenail fungus include:
Discoloration of the toenail, which may appear yellow, orange or brown.
Brittle, jagged toenail
A thickening of the nail can occur due to fungal buildup under the nail
Deformity of the nail, sometimes causing the nail to become ingrown.
Your podiatrist has many methods of treatment available which include:
Oral Medications - prescription oral medications are effective because they destroy the fungus internally, causing the nail to grow back clean and fungus free. This option typically carries some risk of side effect so it is generally not recommended for individuals with diabetes, liver or kidney problems, or otherwise compromised immune systems.
Topical Creams and Nail Polishes - whether prescription strength or over the counter these medications are used for less severe cases of toenail fungus and require applications daily or in some cases multiple times a day in order to be effective.
Laser Nail Treatment - quickly becoming the preferred treatment method of podiatrists due to the fact that it is both highly effective, painless and has no side effects. You can read more about laser treatment here.