With winter on the way, we finally get to cover up our ugly fungal toenails with thick socks and heavy boots. But here’s a revolutionary idea for you to try this winter: instead of hiding fungal toenails all season, only to see them reappear with the crocuses next spring, why don’t we take this time to get them treated instead? That way your feet will be sandal ready as soon as we emerge from the deep freeze of winter!
What is a Fungal Toenail?
Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a fairly common problem. When the fungus first takes hold of your nail, you’ll usually notice a color change in the nail: it will typically get a slight yellow or brown tinge. The nails may become brittle and thick, too. If the condition progresses, untreated, the shape of your nail can change or even separate from the root of your nail.
Big toes are the ones most often affected by fungus; signs of infection are usually noticed at the top or edges of your nail. While toenail fungus doesn’t typically lead to other health issues, it is unsightly and can be painful, so it’s important to treat the problem as soon as possible.
How and Why Do We Get Fungal Toenails?
Age seems to be a risk factor for fungal toenails: a large majority of people with this problem are over 60. Men are also at higher risk than women, and family history does seem to make you more likely to develop a fungal toenail.
Other fungal toenail risk factors include:
· Wearing stiff shoes.
· Leaving already damaged toenails exposed.
· A weakened immune system.
· Exposure to fungi—in the sauna, pool deck or shared showers.
How Can I Prevent a Fungal Toenail Infection?
There are actually many steps you can take to protect your toenails from fungus. Here are just a few suggestions:
1. Keep feet completely dry, especially after swimming or a public shower. Use a towel or even a blow dryer, and pay close attention to notoriously slow-drying spots like the areas between your toes.
2. Avoid tight or stiff shoes, as they don’t allow your feet to breath, creating moist, sweaty environments around your feet. That’s a dream scenario for foot and toenail fungi!
3. Wear flip flops in public showers or at the pool.
4. Never share towels.
5. Alternate your shoes, giving each pair at least one day to air out and rest.
6. Wash sheets, socks and towels on a high temperature setting.
7. Apply anti-fungal spray or powder to your feet and shoes.
How Can I Treat a Fungal Toenai?
Even if you take very careful measures to prevent a fungal toenail, you may still end up with an infection. Don’t worry—we can treat your fungal toenail, but the process may take a while, which is why we recommend setting aside the winter season to devote towards getting your nails back to their healthy state! In our Elmhurst podiatry practice, we offer several treatment options for fungal toenails. The one we select will likely depend on the severity of your problem.
From topical to oral medications, there are plenty of choices for clearing up your infection. One of our most innovative treatments is Clear-Nails pro, a doctor-invented combination of ciclopirox, terbinafine and fluconazole that eliminates the entire spectrum of fungi and molds that are causing your fungal nail disease. This unique patented carrier system allows all three medicines to penetrate both the nail (nail plate) and the nail bed, attacking all the places fungus resides. And because you apply the treatment topically, it is a complete safe and non-toxic treatment option for fungal nails.
In addition to treating the toenail itself, we also provide patients with a recommended full-foot treatment plan. All too often, the fungus affecting your toenail is also in your socks, sheets and shoes. Of course, you can wash your sheets and socks, but you need a better plan to kill the fungus in your shoes, and our podiatrists can help with that piece of the puzzle.
Finally, because we know fungal toenails don’t look great, and because the treatment process can take a while, we offer products that temporarily restore the appearance of a healthy nail so you don’t have to live with the unsightly problem while the medications we prescribe do their job.
If you don’t want to spend the spring awkwardly covering up your feet, take action this winter. Schedule a toenail consultation today, and you could be showing off your pedicure by the time the weather warms up!