Fungal Nails

Can my podiatrist treat fungal nail?

As a podiatrist, I’ve encountered numerous cases of fungal nail infections throughout my career. Fungal nail infections, medically known as onychomycosis, are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While they may seem like a minor annoyance, untreated fungal nails can lead to discomfort, embarrassment, and even complications if left unchecked. In this blog post, I’ll delve into the types of fungal nail infections and discuss common anti-fungal treatments available.

Types of Fungal Nail Infections:

Fungal nail infections can manifest in various forms, each presenting its own set of symptoms and challenges. The most common types include:

  1. Distal Subungual Onychomycosis (DSO): This is the most prevalent type of fungal nail infection. It typically starts at the tip of the nail and progresses towards the cuticle, causing the nail to become discolored, thickened, and brittle. DSO is often associated with the fungus Trichophyton rubrum.
  2. Proximal Subungual Onychomycosis (PSO): Unlike DSO, PSO begins at the base of the nail near the cuticle. It is less common but can be more challenging to treat, especially in individuals with compromised immune systems.
  3. White Superficial Onychomycosis (WSO): WSO appears as white, chalky patches on the surface of the nail. It is typically caused by the fungus Trichophyton mentagrophytes and can affect multiple nails simultaneously.
  4. Candidal Onychomycosis: Candida species can also cause fungal nail infections, particularly in individuals with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or immune deficiencies. Candidal onychomycosis may present with a variety of symptoms, including nail discoloration, thickening, and crumbling.

Common Anti-Fungal Treatments:

Fortunately, several treatment options are available to combat fungal nail infections. The choice of treatment depends on the type and severity of the infection, as well as individual patient factors. Here are some common anti-fungal treatments prescribed by podiatrists:

  1. Topical Antifungals: Over-the-counter and prescription-strength topical antifungal creams, ointments, and solutions can be effective for mild to moderate cases of fungal nail infections. These medications are applied directly to the affected nails and surrounding skin, penetrating the nail to target the underlying fungus.
  2. Oral Antifungals: For more severe or stubborn infections, oral antifungal medications may be necessary. Drugs such as terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole are commonly prescribed by healthcare providers to eradicate fungal nail infections. Oral antifungals work systemically, reaching the site of infection through the bloodstream.
  3. Laser Therapy: Laser therapy is a relatively new approach to treating fungal nail infections. It involves targeting the affected nails with a specialized laser that emits energy, effectively killing the fungus while sparing the surrounding tissue. Laser therapy is non-invasive and typically requires multiple sessions for optimal results.
  4. Surgical Intervention: In rare cases where fungal nail infections are severe or recurrent, surgical intervention may be considered. Procedures such as partial or complete nail removal may be performed to remove the infected nail tissue and allow for healthy nail regrowth.

Preventing Fungal Nail Infections:

While treatment options exist, prevention is always preferable when it comes to fungal nail infections. Podiatrists recommend the following tips to reduce the risk of developing fungal nails:

  • Keep feet clean and dry, especially after bathing or swimming.
  • Wear clean socks made of breathable materials such as cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Choose shoes that provide adequate ventilation and avoid wearing tight-fitting footwear for prolonged periods.
  • Use antifungal powders or sprays in shoes to prevent fungal growth.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and swimming pools.

In conclusion, fungal nail infections are a common podiatric concern that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. By understanding the types of fungal nail infections and familiarizing ourselves with common anti-fungal treatments, we can effectively manage and prevent this bothersome condition. If you suspect you have a fungal nail infection, don’t hesitate to consult with a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment guidance. Your feet will thank you for it!