A fungus infection of the toenail, also known as onychomycosis, is one of the most common dermatologic disorders affecting the foot. It touches about half of the population by the age of 70. Fungus infections occur when microscopic fungi gain entry through a small trauma in the nail. It is an infection underneath the surface of the nail, which may also penetrate the nail.
Fungus is difficult to treat because toenails are always in humid environments.
The disease is characterized by a thickening of the toenail plate, debris under the toenail, a lifting of the leading edge of the nail, a change in nail color and occasionally an odor. Patients complain that toenail fungus is ugly and embarrassing. It is often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing any pain. It will not usually go away on its own. At first glance, fungus appear to be a cosmetic concern. However, without treatment, the toenail can become abnormally thick, forcing the toe to press against the inside of the shoe, causing pressure, irritation and pain.
Toenail fungus can be picked up in damp areas such as public gyms, shower stalls or swimming pools, and can be passed among family members. Athletes and people who wear tight-fitting shoes or tight hosiery that cause trauma to the toes or keep the feet humid are at higher risk. The condition can also spread from one toe to another.
Diabetics have an increased risk of contracting a toenail fungus because their immune system is compromised. They should have their nails regularly trimmed and debrided by a podiatrist.
Treatment and Prevention
Prevention is key to avoiding fungal infection. Just as you floss your teeth to prevent gum disease, you need to take preventive steps against toenail fungus. You should always wear sandals in public showers, pool areas and gyms, and to avoid borrowing someone else’s shoes or sharing socks or towels with someone who has toenail fungus. It is also important to have your own nail clipper and not share it.
Tradionnally, treatment involved manually debriding and cleaning the affected nail with precision and skill. However in a large number of cases this is not sufficient.
We now offer a breakthrough laser treatment that restores fungal nails with no need for medications causing causing various adverse effects. The laser is designed to penetrate the nail and kill the fungus without any damage to the skin and toes. The treated nails do not fall off; they are gradually replaced by new ones.
For more information, call us at 514 733-8558 or read our laser treatment page.