Why Toenail Fungus Should Never Go Untreated

While toenail fungus is common — about 10% of all Americans and 50% of people over 70 get it — it’s still an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. It’s also contagious and difficult to treat. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid treating it.

In the early stages, toenail fungus will likely not cause discomfort or embarrassing yellow, thick nails or pain that can make walking difficult. And, if you seek treatment early, you can prevent it from getting worse and painful.

What is toenail fungus?

Toenail fungus, also called onychomycosis or nail fungus, is an infection underneath the nail bed caused by fungi. It can occur in fingernails as well, but it’s more common in toenails because it’s easier to catch in a warm, damp environment, like sweaty socks and shoes.

The fungi usually get into the nail through a small cut or crack in the nail. Older people are more susceptible to nail fungus because your nails get dryer as you get older, making them more brittle and likely to crack and let fungi in. Nail fungus can also spread from person to person, so it’s a good idea to wear shower shoes or sandals in locker rooms or around wet, damp areas like pools.

Toenail fungus symptoms and risk factors

Toenail fungus symptoms are not pretty. At first, you may notice small white spots and possibly a foul smell. As the condition worsens, your nail gets thicker, which makes it harder to trim or cut, and turns yellow or brown. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail and, eventually, make your nails split and crumble.

In addition to older people, people with certain conditions like diabetes or psoriasis are at higher risk for developing fungus. Other risk factors include having a history of athlete’s foot, which is an infection between your toes, a propensity for sweaty feet, and those with a weakened immune system.

How to treat nail fungus and why you always should

Aside from the pain and discomfort, it’s crucial to treat nail fungus because it can spread and cause permanent damage to your toenail beds. Plus, it is more difficult to treat when it advances, and it does not just go away on its own.

For those with diabetes or a weakened immune system, nail fungus can increase the risk of an infection of the surrounding skin.

Treatments include medicated nail polish, topical antifungal creams, and oral medications. At Town Center Foot & Ankle, podiatrist Dr. Stephen G. Eichelsdorfer offers an effective high tech treatment to get rid of toenail fungus and prevent it from returning. He uses PinPointe™ FootLaser system to destroy the fungus on the affected toe as well as the surrounding toes.

This method enables Dr. Eichelsdorfer to destroy fungus that is present on neighboring toes but has not caused symptoms yet. This way you destroy all the nail fungus at once to prevent a recurrence. Recurrences are fairly common.

For more information on how to prevent, diagnose, and treat toenail fungus, call Town Center Foot & Ankle with offices in Kingwood and Atascocita, Texas, or make an appointment online.

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