Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is an infection underneath the surface of the nail and within the nail bed caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold or a fungal spore is lodged under the nail, the nail often becomes a darker yellow in colour. The nail separates and sometimes lifts causing debris to collect beneath the nail plate, white/ yellow marks on your nail frequently appear and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. If ignored this results in thicker nails that are difficult to trim and this can cause pressure on the toes. Onychomycosis could also present with a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.
Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where you are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, or even in your garden for example. Injury to the nail bed may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune deficiency conditions, are especially prone to nail fungus. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration.
A daily routine of cleansing over a period of many months may temporarily suppress mild infections. White markings that appear on the nail superficially can be filed off then followed by the application of an over-the-counter liquid antifungal agent. However, even the best over-the-counter treatments may not have the desired results or prevent a fungal infection from reoccurring.
Then treatments used in the podiatric practice are:
- Reducing the thickness of the nails
- Topical antifungals
- Oral antifungals, used in pulse treatments
- Decontamination of shoes and socks using Fungisolve
- Laser treatments of all toenails