Fungal Toenails? What are they? and How Can They Be Treated?!

Fungal Nails

Are your toenails fungal?

Is one of your nails discolored? Do they posses a yellow or brown like tinge? Are those nails significantly thicker than the rest of your other toenails? Are the nails in question crumbly?

If the answer is yes, you may have Onychomycosis – otherwise known as fungal infection of the nails.

The condition is quite common, with Onychomycosis affecting roughly 10% of the general population. Males, the elderly and individuals who are immunocompromised or diabetic are more at risk of having fungal toenails as well. The infection can be due to a variety of organisms however it is most commonly a dermatophyte is the cause of the Onychomycosis

What Causes Fungal Toenails?

Onychomycosis can affect your fingernails as well, however, it is far less common due to fingernails having far better blood supply which increases the rate of growth of the fingernails. Furthermore, your hands and fingers are constantly exposed to the elements and fresh air whereas your toes and the nails attached to them are usually confided in enclosed, warm, moist and dark environments such as your shoes and socks – places where bacteria such as fungus love to thrive. 

Common ways individuals can contract the infection is through direct contact with an infected (mycotic) nail. This can usually happen when someone will pass it onto their significant other whilst sleeping in bed. Conversely, using communal spaces such as showers, changing rooms, spas or saunas are also very common places where the fungus thrives. If someone who does have Onychomycosis has used one of these spaces prior to you utilizing the space, it may be the reason why your toenails are now discoloured and thickened!

To confirm your diagnosis, you may need to take some nail clippings as samples and send those off to a laboratory where they will complete the analysis to determine if your nails are being affected by some form of fungus. These clippings can be completed by your local GP, or you can head to one of our clinics here at TFC Podiatry!

What is the BEST way to treat it?

In terms of treatment, unfortunately most topical agents that can be found at the chemist can take quite some time before visible results can be seen, in some circumstances overall treatment for a fungal nail can be 12 months or more. However, if you are consistent with the recommended applications the outcomes are successful. Another option which is usually kept as a last resort are oral antifungals, the main reason being that any medication can have side effects and fungal toenails are generally considered a minor cosmetic problem. 

Here at TFC Podiatry we are very happy to provide ongoing care for your Mycotic nails, due to our specific instruments at our disposal we, are able to cut and file your infected toenail right back, pain free! This will allow your topical antifungal agent of choice to penetrate the affected nail better, and hopefully accelerate the treating timeframe! 

To book an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists at one of our three clinics, click here.