Toenail fungus is an infection that can be contracted in a variety of ways.
While some people have a mild case and barely notice the fungal growth at all, others suffer from intense pain and other symptoms as their infection grows and spreads.
Patients who end up visiting toenail fungus physicians for relief from pain are often finally taking action after months, or even years, of allowing the condition to prosper .
Our Advice to You:
If you have an infection in your toenail, do not wait to see a specialist. The sooner you get proper care, the quicker and more effectively your injury can be addressed.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Bare feet in damp places are particularly susceptible to coming in contact with fungi, but the excessive perspiration that happens inside of a shoe during workouts can also create the same kind of environment. Therefore, frequent time spent in the pool or at the gym is often cited as the cause for fungal infections in the toenails.
In other cases, the fungus in contracted because of an initial injury to the nail bed. Even something as simple as a stubbed toe or an ingrown toenail can make the area more susceptible to the development of a toenail fungus.
Lastly, toenail fungus physicians often see patients with other underlying conditions that contribute to their likelihood of developing infections in general. For example, someone with diabetes, an immunodeficiency disorder or a circulation problem is already at risk for infection. If a person with a chronic disease comes in contact with the tiny fungi organisms, there is a higher likelihood of that fungus taking hold on the nail.
What is Toenail Fungus & How will I know if I Have it?
Toenail fungus is an infection beneath the surface of the nail. It can be present on a toe for years without producing noticeable pain, but usually changes to the color and quality of the nail are the first indicators of its presence. The timing and severity of symptoms vary from patient to patient, but generally, those suffering from this kind of infection report:
- darkening/discoloration of the affected nail
- a foul smell from the nail
- thickening of the nail
- white marks on the nail plate
- redness and swelling
- spreading of the infected area
- pain when walking or wearing shoes
If you’ve noticed a progressive change in a toenail's color or thickness, it’s time to call Rothman Institute at 1-800-321-9999 and set up an appointment with one of our toenail fungus physicians on our foot and ankle team.
If the infection is mild and you catch it early, a daily cleansing routine combined with nail filing and a liquid antifungal application may help to keep the infection at bay.
However, fungal infections of this kind are fairly resilient and will often return. If over the counter antifungal agents are not strong enough to effectively manage the infection, talk to one of many toenail fungus physicians about which prescription option would work best for your case. Both topical and oral medications are available.
In some cases, removal of part (or all) of the nail is required. This approach helps to accomplish several goals. First, diseased nail matter can be removed. Second, debri underneath of the nail will be cleaned out and lastly, topical antifungal medication can then be applied directly to the affected nail bed.
Our Advice to You:
If you have an infection in your toenail, do not attempt to perform “bathroom surgery.” Those who try to remove the affected nail on their own at home usually make the condition worse or end up damaging healthy tissue in the process.