By Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care
April 05, 2017
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Fungal toenails are a condition that we see quite frequently at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care but one that patients may have for a long time before seeking treatment. Part of the reason for this is a misconception that fungal nails are just a cosmetic problem. It’s true that a patient can have a fungal toenail for years and not experience any pain but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a threat. Typically, when the fungi group known as dermophytes attacks the nail, they consume keratin, the protein substance found in the nail. This leads to changes in color and thickness of the nail. Debris may collect under the nail plate and a foul smell may accompany these changes. Sometimes fungal toenails open the door to a secondary bacterial infection which can cause crumbling or loosening of the nail. Both fungal and bacterial infections can spread to other nails and the skin.

Common Causes

Ultimately a fungal nail infection is spread by direct contact but there are several scenarios that make a patient more prone to becoming infected including:

  • Injury to the nail bed
  • History of chronic athlete’s foot
  • A tendency to perspire excessively
  • Certain diseases: diabetes, circulatory problems, immune-deficiency

Treatment and Prevention

If you notice symptoms of a fungal toenail (even if you are not experiencing pain) let one of our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah evaluate it. In most cases, a topical and/or oral medication will help get rid of the infection and the foot doctor will clean out the infected area. In particularly resistant cases, a portion of the nail may need to be removed.

Of course, the best solution is prevention. Protect your nails by not going barefoot in public places, practicing good daily hygiene and keeping feet dry by wearing socks that are made of moisture wicking material that are not tight-fitting and using a talcum powder on your feet.

If you have additional concerns or questions about foot or nail infections, contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office by calling: 732-662-3050.