What is Toenail Fungus?
An estimated 10% of Americans suffer from onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the toenail. 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. The board-certified podiatric physicians at American Foot & Leg Specialists are experts in treating toenail fungus and providing long term relief.
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, others, especially swimmers and athletes, have associated behavioral patterns, such as going barefoot in public showers or gyms, that unintentionally leave them open to this infection. Athletes are at greater risk for fungal infection because their feet are often damp, which is the perfect environment for fungi to thrive.
Symptoms and Treatment
This is a very common problem and 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%. And 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.
At American Foot & Leg Specialists we do not take your discomfort lightly. If you are suffering from toenail fungus we want you to feel better. Make an appointment today to allow us to expertly diagnose your infection and devise a treatment protocol. If you live south of Atlanta, Georgia, there is an office convenient to you. Patients from all over, including Griffin, Union City, Newnan, Forest Park, and Ellenwood give American Foot & Leg a “thumbs up.”