Toenail and Fingernail Fungus Removal
Onychomycosis, sometimes referred to as ringworm of the nails and more commonly known as fingernail or toenail fungus, is an infection that develops when a microscopic fungus takes root underneath a fingernail or toenail. The infection often begins growing on dead and dying skin tissue via a cut or break in the nail where it enters and begins to grow deep within the nail bed. Patients with toenail fungus can also have an underlying athlete’s foot problem, which can make treatment of the fungus more difficult.
Symptoms of infection
Because nail fungus is a common condition, most cases are ignored by the sufferer. That said, it begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. Symptoms will then expand to one or more of the following:
- Thickened nails
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged feel
- Nails are noticeably distorted in shape
- Dull with no shine
- Nails become a darker color, which is caused by debris building up underneath your nail
- Other discoloration (brown, yellow or white spots or streaks)
- Streaks or spots down the sides of the nail and occasionally pain may occur in the toes or fingertips.
In many cases, your nails will heal on their own without the need of a professional; however, if your nail fungus is painful and does not seem to go away despite your self-care steps or medications, you should contact us immediately. If you have diabetes, and have any symptoms whatsoever, you should contact us regardless.
It should also be noted that even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often does come back.
Causes of infection
The origin of an infection can be difficult to pinpoint, but tend to begin in warm, wet places such as locker rooms or shower stalls and not as a result of poor hygiene. Toenail fungus infections can also be more difficult to cure due to a slower nail growth rate and exposure to warm, damp shoes or boots which encourage fungal growth. The fungus can be spread from one individual to another and so it is not recommended to share shoes, boots or socks with those who may have had an infection.
Fungi tend to thrive and infect in specific conditions:
- Can cause problems if your nails are often exposed to warm and moist conditions
- Warm, such as swimming pools and showers or inside your shoes.
- Toes are more at risk to fungi because they are usually covered and normally have less blood flow compared to your fingers. Thus, it becomes much harder for your body’s immune system to detect and then stop infection
- Fungi can infect your skin through cuts as well as through a small separation between your nail and nail bed. Some of these cuts are so small you can’t even see them.
Treatment for Toenail and Fingernail infections
There are several methods of treatment for toenail and fingernail fungus infections which include home remedies, non-prescription ointments, oral medications and surgical treatment of the fungus. During your first visit, one of our doctors will examine your nails and may run some tests to determine what type of infection you have. Surgical treatment of the infection is performed by safely heating the nail with a surgical laser to kill the fungus, which then gradually dissipates over a several month period while new nails grow in. The initial laser treatments take place over several sessions and it may take up to 9 to 18 months for the new nails to grow. If athlete’s foot is also a problem, additional ointments may be recommended for use after the initial treatments.
Those most at risk
Anyone can get toenail or fingernail fungus, however it is more commonly found in those over the age of 60. As we indicated above, toenail and fingernail infections can also present some serious risks for those with diabetes or weaker immune systems so it is important to see a doctor if symptoms occur. To prevent fingernail or toenail fungus infections, it is recommended to avoid walking barefoot in public areas (locker rooms, gyms, shower stalls etc.), keep the inside of shoes or boots dry, change socks frequently, wear shoes that fit (leaving room for your toes) and use absorbent or anti-fungal powders.
Other factors that can increase risk include:
- Those who perspire heavily
- Being male, particularly if you have a family history of nail fungal infections
- Wearing socks and shoes that obstruct proper ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration
- Having athlete’s foot
- Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis.
If you have any questions, please fill out our patient form to schedule a consultation or contact us directly at (508) 481-8346. In addition, be sure to visit our frequently asked questions page about our cosmetic surgery center.