It’s one thing to get athlete’s foot, since topical creams are generally effective and you can smear it all over your infected area. But when the fungus has found its way under your toenails or fingernails, then treatment takes on a whole new level of complexity. Nail fungus is unsightly and can be painful. And it’s difficult to treat. If your nails turn yellow or thicken, get yourself to a dermatologist or podiatrist for early diagnosis and successful treatment. And be careful in the future! Call today.
No one likes to deal with yellow, thick or crumbling fingernails or toenails. Nail fungus starts as a small yellow or white spot on your nail, usually under the tip. Then it slowly spreads deeper into the nail bed. Nail fungus may begin with one nail, but it often spreads to others.
Some choose to ignore or cover up yellowed nails, especially if there are no other symptoms. If the fungus thickens your nail noticeably, it can become painful as it pushes up against the sensitive nail bed. Your Century Medical and Dental Center top rated dermatologist needs to examine your nails before recommending a treatment. But when you visit this Brooklyn multi-discipline practice, you have access to many specialists, including a podiatrist, if you need one.
The Ugly Symptoms of Nail Fungus
Called onychomycosis, nail fungus represents one type of nail disease. If the fungus infects the skin of your feet, it’s called tinea pedis or athlete’s foot. Initial symptoms may be virtually unnoticeable. Small, white or yellow spots or streaks develop along the underside of your nail.
As time progresses, however, the streaks grow to cover more of your nail. You may notice your nails thickening to the point that cutting your nails becomes more difficult. The nail may crack and peel. The yellowing continues, and the thickened nail may cause certain shoes to be too uncomfortable to wear.
Causes and Risk Factors of Nail Fungus
Fungal infections result from yeast, mold and more commonly, a type of fungus called dermatophyte, which is a fungus often associated with ringworm. Aging, brittle nails allow easier access for these fungi. Older individuals also suffer from weakened immune systems and reduced blood flow. Although fungus may start as athlete’s foot, it’s unusual for nail fungus to be contagious. Some risk factors for developing concerns include:
- The slower growing nails of older individuals
- A weakened immune system
- Decreased blood flow, which may be caused by diabetes
- A history of athlete’s foot
- Barefoot walking in damp areas such as shower rooms, gyms or swimming pools
- Skin conditions, such as psoriasis
If the nail fungus progresses without treatment, it can become painful and cause permanent damage to the nail bed and the nail. If you have a coexisting condition, such as diabetes, any fungal infections make skin infections more problematic, as blood flow is necessary for healing to happen.
Nail Fungus Treatment
Notoriously hard to treat, nail fungus options vary from over-the-counter possibilities to more aggressive prescription medications. Nail fungus, even when successfully treated, often returns. Your Brooklyn dermatologist recommends several possible treatment options, including:
- Over-the-counter fungal medication helps slow the progression of the disease.
- Oral antifungal medication often remains the first choice of your podiatrist due to their effectiveness and quickness. You take these drugs for six to twelve weeks, although you won’t see the complete effect of the treatment until the new nail grows in free of infection. This takes four months or longer, depending on how quickly your nails grow.
- Special nail creams that contain antifungal medicine are effective. You apply these creams after soaking your feet. You may first use a nonprescription lotion containing urea to thin your nails, making the antifungal medication more effective.
- Medicated nail polish that you apply once a day on the nail and surrounding skin deal with the infection if you have the patience. You have to peel the layers off after seven days and repeat, sometimes for up to a year.
- Surgery may be necessary to temporarily or permanently remove the nail, depending on how painful, severe or advanced the nail fungus has become.
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
If you’ve had athlete’s foot or nail fungus in the past, you know the dangers of not having it treated. Preventative steps that keep nail fungus at bay include:
- Practicing good hygiene
- Disinfecting your nail clippers regularly
- Washing your hands and feet often and thoroughly
- Inspecting your hands and feet for any signs of infection or fungus
- Wearing footwear in damp areas and places with standing water
- Disinfecting or throwing out old shoes that may have fungal pores
Make sure the shoes you wear are made of breathable materials. Your socks should be sweat-absorbing and clean. If you visit nail salons, make sure they meet cleanliness standards and use sterilized equipment. If you struggle with nail fungus, your Brooklyn medical specialist or podiatrist can control your symptoms and eradicate the fungal infection. Contact Century Medical and Dental Center for an appointment today!