Usually when your toenails are a different shade, the color has been painted on top. If you haven’t polished your nails, and they’re still sporting a darker color, you could have an infection underneath the nail surface, and that’s not one of this year’s top trends! As unsightly as they are uncomfortable, fungal nails can be a not-so-pretty problem.
Also called onychomycosis, toenail fungus is a result of infection that takes hold under the nail causing discoloration, thick and brittle nails, and sometimes even a foul smell. It is not painful, so it is often ignored. However the infection can spread and cause further damage.
How Does the Fungus Find Me?
Your feet can’t help but attract microscopic organisms, especially when you walk barefoot in public areas such as showers, pools, and locker rooms. These damp surfaces are a breeding ground for bacteria just waiting for toenails to attack! If you have an injury to the nail bed or a history of athlete’s foot, you are likely to be even more at risk. The same is true for those with circulatory problems, immune-deficiency disorders, or chronic diseases like diabetes. Even excessively sweaty feet can make you prone to the condition.
How Can I Fight the Fungus?
Keeping the affected area clean and dry, as well as applying a liquid antifungal agent can help, but not always. Seeking treatment from your podiatrist early gives you the best chance of fighting off the infection and having your nail return to normal. How fungal nails are treated depends on the severity of the condition, as well as the nature of its cause. Once that is determined, the appropriate course of action can be taken. Usually this entails topical and oral medications and what’s called debridement. This involves the removal of infected nail matter and debris that has collected underneath.
In some cases, a surgical procedure may be required. This could involve temporarily removing the infected nail to apply an antifungal medication directly, or a permanent removal of a chronically affected nail. Laser therapy is yet another treatment option known to get rid of toenail fungus.
Don’t Let Down Your Defenses
Fungi do not like clean, dry feet. So, if you want to prevent fungal nails, good hygiene is your first line of defense. Wash your feet with soap and water daily, making sure to dry them thoroughly. Change shoes and socks regularly, and always slip on shower shoes or sandals if walking in public areas. Trim your nails straight across, never allowing them to get longer than the tip of your toe. Make sure nail clippers and pedicure tools are disinfected before using them too. Choose socks and shoes made of breathable materials, and stay away from nail polish if you suspect an infection. You might be tempted to cover it up, but it will only add to the problem.
If your toenail is discolored, but not because of a pretty pedicure, get it checked out at Podiatry Associates P.C. Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen and the team can help you fight fungal nails, and get your toes back to looking and feeling good again. Call (303) 805-5156 for an appointment, or visit us in Castle Pines, Cherry Creek, or Parker, CO.