When was the last time you looked at your toenails? Like, really looked? Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about your health based on the appearance of your nails, and it doesn’t take an expert to spot the signs of a problem, especially if you have a fungal infection.
A healthy toenail should have consistent coloring and a smooth texture. As you grow older, it’s normal to develop vertical ridges or increasing brittleness.
But if you notice nail discoloration or thickening and crumbling at the edges, you could have a fungal infection. And if you want to avoid worsening or ongoing problems, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an expert.
Our team at Premier Foot and Ankle Center has the tools and expertise to diagnose and treat fungal infections. Since these organisms can penetrate deep into the nail bed and jeopardize the health of your toenail, the earlier you start treatment, the better, because it won’t go away on its own.
What you should know about toenail fungus
First, rest easy. Fungal nail infections are very common, and up to 14% of the population has this problem. Different types of fungi in the environment penetrate cracks in your nail or the skin surrounding it and multiply, causing an infection.
The challenge with these infections is that they’re highly contagious, so they’re easy to pick up. They also thrive in foot environments — mainly warm, dark, and damp areas. Since they don’t cause much pain and discomfort, they can worsen quickly without notice. And it doesn’t take long.
What starts as a small white or yellow-brown spot under the tip of your nail can spread rapidly, growing above the nail, underneath it, and even between the layers of tissue forming the toenail.
Worse yet, the microscopic fungal organisms can even reach the nail matrix — the very cells that make the toenail itself.
Anyone can develop toenail fungus, but certain factors can increase your chances of this infection, such as:
- Being older
- Having brittle or damaged nails
- Living with diabetes or a weakened immune system
- Suffering from recurring athlete’s foot
- Suffering from chronic sweating
- Having certain skin conditions, like psoriasis
- Going barefoot in public places, like showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools
And once you have a fungal infection, you can easily pass it on to others.
Diagnosing and treating toenail fungal infections
Since fungal infections can worsen quickly and spread to other toes on your feet, the skin in between, and others, it’s essential to take action as soon as possible to nip the infection in the bud. This is even more vital if you have a condition that can affect your foot health, like diabetes.
At Premier Foot and Ankle Center, we have the experience and skill required to diagnose and treat fungal infections. The key to managing toenail fungus is determining the type of fungus behind your condition and tailoring your treatment accordingly.
In most cases, toenail fungal infections require oral or topical antifungal medications. For the best results, you often need to use them for up to 12 weeks. You also have to clean and thoroughly dry your feet each day and avoid going barefoot in public spaces.
Over the course of your treatment, you’ll see the appearance of your toenail improving and returning to a healthy state.
We can also provide personalized recommendations so you can avoid fungal infections in the future.
Could you have a toenail fungal infection? It won’t go away on its own. Contact us at Premier Foot and Ankle Center in Worcester or Webster, Massachusetts, to schedule a consultation today.