Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection found under the nail of a toe. Your feet are especially susceptible to fungal infections in warm, damp areas where you would find yourself barefoot, such as a public pool or locker room. If your nail bed is injured or broken, your foot is more vulnerable. Also, those who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, immune-deficiency conditions, or circulatory problems may be more prone to developing fungal toenails. Because of its infectious nature, having one fungal toenail may lead to other toes and possibly fingers being affected.
Symptoms include thickening of the nail, darkening of the nail, a foul smell, and white marks. You can sometimes ignore a fungal infection because there is no pain associated with it. It can, however, cause pain when wearing shoes and walking.
Diagnosis and Treatment
You can first try to treat the infection with over-the-counter topical medication. An antifungal agent combined with regular cleaning of the toe can work to keep the infection at bay. It will not stop it from returning, though.
If the issue persists or is causing you pain, we recommend you visit a specialist. A podiatrist will determine the cause of the infection and develop a treatment plan to completely eradicate the fungus. There are now FDA approved oral medications that are often the most effective option for fighting toenail fungus.
In extreme cases, surgical intervention may be the best option. Temporary or permanent removal of the infected nail can work to eliminate the infection and avoid the return of a malformed nail.
It is important that you work with qualified foot doctors to ensure your case is treated as knowledgeably as possible. Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine is proud to have Beth Pearce, DPM, a board certified podiatrist on our team. Dr. Pearce specializes in treating foot conditions in patients of all ages.