Treating Fungal Nails

Toenail fungus is a more common condition than many might initially believe. Approximately 30 million Americans have a fungal toenail infection!

Regardless of its frequency, toenail fungus still carries an unsightly and embarrassing stigma for many sufferers. Most people with fungal toenails would rather get rid of the condition, but home remedies tend not to have much of an effect.

And for many, toenail fungus is not something that will easily disappear. It can be a chronic disease that lasts a lifetime and requires a long-term plan to battle.

If you’re seeking effective, professional treatment of toenail fungus – both now and well into the future – come to Family Foot Care and Surgery. Dr. Patel and Dr. Harpaz will determine the severity of your fungal infection and tailor a precise plan to help you manage this dreaded condition. We carry advanced tools such as laser therapy among other treatment options to meet the specialized needs of our patients.

What Is Toenail Fungus? What Does It Look Like?

Toenail fungus is indeed a fungus. It belongs to a class called “dermatophytes” which is also where the fungus that causes athlete’s foot belongs. 

This fungus thrives on a protein called keratin, which just happens to be abundant in your nail plate. They can sneak beneath the nail through tiny cuts or any other opening between the nail and skin.

While toenail fungus can wreak havoc on your nails’ appearance over time, an infection is not so obvious to start. You might first see a tiny whitish or yellowish blemish in the nail, and it’s easy to assume it’s from some little nick or bump you received. But if the blemish doesn’t disappear over time – and grows or changes shape instead – it’s a good call to come and see us. Identifying and treating fungus this early can make things much shorter and sweeter!

But everyone is more familiar with a fungal infection that has had more time to develop. Symptoms at this stage can include:

  • Yellowish, whitish, or brownish discoloration
  • Thickening of the nails
  • Crumbling or brittleness 
  • Warped or distorted shape
  • In some cases, a faint foul aroma

The fungus has had significant time to work its way into the nail and nail bed by this time. It is more of a challenge to root out than it is when caught earlier, but still very much possible with the right treatment.

Determining a Treatment Plan for Toenail Fungus

Before making any recommendations for treatment, we must first fully understand the condition. Not all fungal infections are the same, and adjusting our treatment options to your specific needs will help us optimize your results.

Treatment recommendations can differ depending on the type of fungus, nature of the fungus, how long you have had the condition, whether any other skin conditions are associated with the infection, and other factors.

Once we have a full grasp of the situation, we can recommend options that may be best for your treatment and management. Topical medications and oral antifungal medications are among some possible considerations. A new form of treatment that might also come highly recommended is the use of laser.

Laser Treatment for Fungal Toenails

We use an FDA-approved laser system to eradicate fungal toenail infections. This advanced method is fast, painless, drug-free, and has no known side effects.

Laser therapy also offers higher overall cure rates than antifungal medication treatments. This is thanks to its ability to reach where the fungus resides in ways that topical medications have a much more difficult time accomplishing. 

Oral anti-fungal medications are better capable of reaching fungus directly, and we might prescribe them in certain cases. However, they can come with side effects that make them not recommendable to all patients. Laser therapy does not have this drawback.

What to Expect During Laser Treatment

Laser treatment typically consists of 3-4 sessions spread out over several weeks or months, depending on the severity of the infection.

During each appointment, the laser will be applied to each infected nail. The laser is attuned to a power and wavelength that can reach the fungus without causing any collateral damage to the nail or other healthy tissues whatsoever.

A typical session will be finished in less than 30 minutes, and you are free to continue with your day as normal. There is nothing you need to do to prepare, and no aftercare required.

It is possible for the fungus to be fully eradicated within just 2-3 treatments. However, the damage the fungus left to the nail will remain until new nail tissue has had the opportunity to fully grow out and replace it.

Preventing Toenail Fungus

Whether you have never had toenail fungus or have recovered from a previous infection, a new infection can still occur. Take the following steps to reduce your risk of fungal nail infection:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water every day, then dry them thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes.
  • Treat your shoes with an antifungal powder or spray overnight.
  • Opt for breathable and moisture-wicking materials for your footwear.
  • Change out of wet socks and shoes, even if that means wearing more than one pair each day.
  • Rotate your footwear, giving it at least 24 hours to air dry before wearing again.
  • Avoid going barefoot in warm, wet public places like locker rooms, pool decks, and shared showers.
  • Never share your nail trimmers, socks, or shoes with anyone else.

Let’s Take Care of Your Toenail Fungus

Remember that the earlier toenail fungus is treated, the better. Even if your nails “don’t look that bad,” it’s still worth checking out if you suspect you might have an infection.

Schedule an appointment at our Milford or Hamden offices by giving us a call or filling out our online contact form.