The Centers for Disease Control have organized the first Fungal Disease Awareness Week, August 14-18th, to highlight the importance of recognizing and getting immediate treatment for serious fungal diseases. At Gentle Professional Foot Care we want to take this opportunity to give readers some information about fungal toenails. Although not a life-threatening fungal disease, fungal toenails can develop into a chronic problem that can spread to other parts of the skin and body and become increasingly difficult to eradicate if left untreated.
What are the Symptoms?
Signs of a fungal toenail include discoloration (usually the toenail turns brown, yellow or white), thickening of the nail, cracking or splintering off around the edges. Fungal toenails are not usually painful unless the infection has become severe. This is one reason why patients wait so long before seeking treatment.
Who is Likely to Get a Fungal Nail Infection?
While it’s possible for anyone to get this type of fungal infection the following people are at increased risk:
- Patients with a dysfunctional immune systems
- Patients with circulatory problems
- Anyone who has recently had a nail injury or nail surgery
- Patients who have Athlete’s Foot
How Can Fungal Toenails be Avoided?
Fungal nail infections are caused by many different types of yeasts and molds that enter through small cracks in your toenails or the surrounding skin. You can limit your exposure to these fungi by observing the following tips:
- Don’t walk barefoot in public places such as community pools, gym locker rooms and showersand beach changing areas
- Don’t share nail clippers, emery boards, shoes, socks, or other items that touch other people’s toe or finger nails
- Only go to nail salons that are licensed by your state’s cosmetology board and are clean and follow proper sterilizing techniques for tools (another option is to bring your own tools to the nail salon)
- Practice good nail hygiene: wash and dry your feet daily and keep nails clipped short and straight across
If you believe you may have a fungal toenail, contact our Venice office for an appointment so our podiatrist, Dr. Charles A. Suleskey, can examine your toe and confirm a fungal toenail diagnosis. Treatment usually consists of a combination of topical and oral antifungal medications, but the infection can take a long time to eliminate, so the sooner you start treatment the better.