Medical Services

Treating Toenail Fungus

Millions of Americans suffer from toenail fungus. It can be unsightly, uncomfortable and embarrassing. It affects both men and women, does not discriminate by race, and most often occurs in adults. While anyone can get toenail fungus, you are at higher risk if you live or work in a hot, humid place, wear shoes that keep your feet sweaty and moist, or if you have diabetes or a compromised immune system. Fungus can spread from person to person, and you can contract it from going barefoot in public showers or by the pool. It can also spread by a towel or nail clippers.

What Causes Fungal Nail Infections?

Yeasts, molds, and different kinds of fungi can cause fungal nail infections. Nail fungus, combined with progressive nail deformity, may cause pain, limit mobility, interfere with wearing shoes and predispose the toe to bacterial infection. In the beginning, the nail fungus infection usually is limited to one or several toenails and usually presents an unsightly appearance. As time goes on, the nail thickens and becomes deformed. The nail plate may separate from the toe and a yellowish, crumbly material can form under the nail. Sometimes there is an odor.

Can Nail Fungus Cause Other Health Problems?

While a nail infection most likely will not cause any other serious health problems, it can be painful and make it difficult to wear certain shoes. In the past, toenail fungus has been a very difficult condition to treat. The nails on our toes not only provide protection from injury but provide an effective barrier against infection. The nail makes it quite difficult for a superficial infection to invade and get established. Once a fungus becomes entrenched, the same barrier that was effective in protecting against infection, now works to protect the fungus. This makes it difficult, if not close to impossible to treat the fungus because it is difficult to reach.

What are my Treatment Options?

There is a very exciting breakthrough in treating toenail fungus. This non-invasive procedure kills the fungus while leaving the nail and surrounding skin unharmed.  it has a reported effective rate of approximately 88 percent and it poses virtually no risk to the patient. The treatment takes approximately 10 minutes per foot. Results are often seen in approximately 16 weeks; however, it takes about a year for the nail to grow out. While you cannot see results overnight, your nails are continually growing, and you can see the healthy nail start to present itself at the cuticle.

Past treatments include antifungal creams, lotions and nail polish. These topical medications have a low success rate and can take up to a year to show any improvement in the condition of the nail. Oral medications are available, but they can put your liver at risk and do not have a high level of success. There can be serious side effects from these pills, and blood tests are necessary to monitor your liver function while you are taking them.

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