Avail Dermatology

What Lies Beneath: All About Toe Fungus

We don’t see our toes for most of the day. They spend hours and hours on end cooped up in our socks and shoes, so it’s easy for us to forget about them and what goes on down there.

One condition that sometimes plagues our little piggies is toenail fungus and, believe it or not, it’s pretty common.  Known scientifically as onychomycosis, toenail fungus infections affect some 35 million people worldwide, causing nail discoloration, odor, discharge, and possibly nail loss. As we get older, this is more and more common, with some estimating that over 50% of people over age 60 have nail fungal infection.

Sounds awful right? While it can be rather unpleasant, it’s perfectly treatable.

Below we’ve listed some common ways to deal with infections and how they happen.

How’d I get infected?

For healthy individuals infections often happen in warm and moist areas such as gym showers or swimming pools. Prolonged wearing of tight, sweaty shoes can also cause a fungus to show. People that have conditions that affect the immune system such as cancer, diabetes, or AIDS are at a higher risk of getting infected. The tendency to get nail fungus also appears to be inherited, as there is usually a family history of nail fungus in patients who are diagnosed.

What are the symptoms?

You may have been infected if you notice any of the following symptoms.

  • Thickened nails
  • Fragile or rugged nails
  • Slight pain
  • Distorted nail shapes
  • Discoloration: Yellowish, brownish, patchy
  • Foul odor

How do I treat it?

Nail fungal infections are very difficult to treat and can take a long time before the condition disappears completely. The best way to get treated for an infection is to consult a doctor. Depending on what your doctor recommends you could be given medications in the form of topical treatments (lotions and creams), oral medications, or antifungal lacquer, which is applied to the nail like nail polish. Infected portions of the nail can also be removed to aid treatment. Even with prescription medications, treatment can be challenging. Fortunately, there has been significant progress recently in the development of new topical medications. Dermatologists can also prescribe oral medications. If used properly with close monitoring, this can be a safe and effective treatment for even the more severe cases.

How do I prevent it?

  • Wash and dry your feet before putting on socks and shoes
  • Let your feet breathe! Wear shoes that aren’t too tight
  • Wear shower shoes in public areas with lots of water and moisture
  • Don’t wear already worn socks without washing them first
  • If your feet get damp during the day, change your socks and shoes to keep your feet dry

Schedule an appointment with one of our elite dermatologists at Avail Dermatology by calling us at (770) 251-5111 today!