Nearly 20% of Americans end up with a toenail fungus during their lifetime, developing thick, yellow nails that most people find embarrassing. At InStride Foot & Ankle of the Carolinas, Eric Ward, DPM, and Blaise Woeste, DPM, have years of experience treating fungal toenails and helping men and women overcome a problem that’s often hard to heal. If you have signs of a nail fungus, call one of the offices in Matthews or Monroe, North Carolina, or schedule an appointment online.
A fungal toenail infection, a condition called onychomycosis, occurs when a fungal organism enters the nail bed through a cut or cracked nail. Chances are you frequently come into contact with fungal organisms like yeast and mold because they live in dark, moist places like the inside of your shoes. But you only get a nail infection when the organism has a way to get into the nail.
Your risk of developing a fungal infection increases if you:
Fungal infections also develop more often as you get older and your toenails become dry, brittle, and cracked.
One of the first signs you may see are white or yellow spots or streaks under the tip of your toenail. These spots show up where the organisms entered the nail bed.
As the infection spreads, your toenails thicken and take on a yellowish color. The infection ultimately affects the shape of the nail and the edge of your nail may start to crumble.
Fungal nail infections can be hard to treat. If you notice that your nail is increasingly discolored or thickened, it’s best to see your podiatrist at InStride Foot & Ankle of the Carolinas because over-the-counter medications seldom solve the problem.
There are two treatment options for a toenail fungus: topical and systemic antifungal medications. Prescription-strength topical medications require daily application. Your podiatrist may file down the surface of the nail to make it easier for the topical medication to penetrate into the nail bed.
Oral antifungal medications clear the infection more quickly than topical medications. You may not be able to take these medications if you have liver disease, congestive heart failure, or take medications that interact with the antifungal.
The oral medication works by helping a new nail grow in that’s free of the infection. That means you won’t see the full results until the original nail is completely replaced, which takes about four months or longer.
If you develop discolored toenails or suspect a nail fungus, call InStride Foot & Ankle of the Carolinas or book an appointment online.