What is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus affects an estimated 10% of Americans. If you are one of those who suffer from toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, you’ll be glad to know there is excellent treatment available from the board-certified podiatrists at American Foot & Leg Specialists. Toenail fungus causes toenails to turn embarrassingly yellow and crumbly from fungi that squeeze under them and then hide out. If left untreated the fungi dig in deeper and may spread to other toenails, causing them to thicken and become even more unsightly. 

What Causes Toenail Fungus?

A fungal infection of the toenail usually occurs due to small cuts in the skin or a small separation in the toenail and the nail bed. Once present in a toenail, the infection can spread quickly. The foot is prone to fungal infections because shoes are dark, moist environments. The infection also thrives from prolonged exposure to warm, moist environments such as pools or showers.

While some people are genetically prone to toenail fungus, swimmers and athletes for example, have associated behavioral patterns which include going barefoot in public showers or gyms. This unintentionally leaves them open to this infection. Athletes are at greater risk for fungal infection because their feet are often damp, creating the perfect environment for fungi to thrive.

Symptoms and Treatment

Although toenail fungus is common, unfortunately only about 20% of people infected seek professional care from a physician. Toenail fungus has not only been associated with pain, difficulty walking and difficulty wearing shoes, but also with emotional issues such as, embarrassment, low self-esteem, and avoiding social interaction.

Treatment can be topical creams, oral medications, or laser toenail fungus treatments. Often a combination of all three methods are used. Topical treatments are simple remedies; however, they must be applied daily for 8 to 10 months, and studies have shown that some have a low effective rate. Oral medications are taken daily for three months and are more effective than topical treatments, but studies have shown recurrence rates to be as high as 35%. Laser fungus toenail treatments have been clinically proven to be 77% to 90% effective with 5 mm of new clear nail growth.

During the consultation at American Foot & Leg Specialists, our podiatric physicians will review patient specific oral, topical, and laser treatment options in terms of risk and benefits. From there, our physicians will devise a treatment protocol that will best fit the patient’s needs, allowing them to wear sandals or walk on the beach without embarrassment.

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American Foot and Leg Specialists draws patients from all over the Atlanta area. Our 4 locations in Stockbridge, Forest Park, Fayetteville, and Locust Grove, are just short drive from Midtown, Buckhead, East Point, College Park, Riverdale, Jonesboro, Irondale, McDonough, and Peachtree City. Schedule a consultation today to eliminate your foot and ankle problems.