Fungal nails refers to any number of fungal nail infections that can occur on the foot. Since fungal nails are usually more resistant and more difficult to treat than athlete's foot, topical or oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. Note: Please consult a physician before taking any medications.
There are several treatment options available today for the treatment of fungal toenails. We now have available at Concord Foot and Ankle Clinic the PinPointe Laser, which is specifically designed to treat fungal toenails. It is a painless procedure that is performed in the office, taking 30 to 45 minutes. This is an excellent option for patients who are unable to or prefer not to take oral medication. To learn more about this exciting new treatment, please click here.
The most commonly used oral antifungal medication is called Lamisil (terbinafine), and is well tolerated by most patients, with a high success rate in resolving the problem.
Topical antifungal medications are another option. However, I have found that they work best when the fungal infection is mild. Also, they must be applied once to twice daily for up to a year to be effective.
Regardless of the treatment chosen, clearing of the toenails will not be immediate. It will take up to one year for a new toenail to grow out and replace the diseased nail. It is best to obtain treatment as soon as you suspect there may be a problem. Often, the disease will spread to other toenails, and in extreme cases, can damage the toenail to the point where the nail is damaged beyond recovery. Permanent nail removal is another possible form of treatment for tenacious fungal nails.
Preventing Fungal Nail Infections
After a fungal nail infection has cleared up, take steps to prevent the infection from recurring. Keeping fungi at bay will help prevent a fungal infection of the skin from reinfecting the nail. Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet, and apply a nonprescription antifungalantifungal cream to the entire foot from the ankle down. Use the cream every night, then gradually apply it less often. Keep your feet dry. Dry feet are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet after you take a shower or bath.
Other suggestions for preventing fungal nails include:
- Don't share nail clippers or nail files with others.
- Don't share shoes or socks with others.
- Try not to injure your nail, such as by cutting it too short (trauma to the nail may lead to infections).
- Wear dry cotton socks and change them two or three times a day if necessary.
- Wear dry shoes that allow air to circulate around your feet (tight, enclosed, moist shoes contribute to fungal toenail infections).
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when you are at a public pool or shower.
Follow basic foot care guidelines and, more than likely, you can head off most common foot fungus problems.